It’s probably not a good sign that Donald Trump’s running-mate vetting process doesn’t appear to be any more sophisticated than looking on Twitter to see who might have said something positive about him. Simply by responding favorably to Donald Trump’s ridiculous foreign policy speech, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee seems to have gotten his name in contention.
Corker’s base of power is Chattanooga, which is about the most rock-ribbed Republican area you could hope to find, so it’s not like Corker would expand the appeal of the ticket through his constituency the way that John Kasich might. What makes Corker intriguing is that he serves as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Through fortuitous circumstances, Corker rose up the ranks on that committee unusually quickly, and became the Ranking Member when Sen. Richard Lugar was bounced out of office in a primary in 2012. There was hope that Lugar might have had some positive influence on Corker before he left the scene, but international policy hasn’t had the same bipartisan feel in the Senate in his absence.
Still, Corker is at least conversant in foreign affairs, and that would be a comfort to a lot of Republicans and some swingy observers. He also has a nice biographical story.
In an interview with Esquire, Corker said that he started working when he was 13, collecting trash and bagging ice. Later he worked at Western Auto and as a construction laborer. After graduation from the University of Tennessee, he then worked for four years as a construction superintendent. During this time he saved up $8,000, which he used to start a construction company, Bencor, in 1978. The company’s first large contract was with Krystal restaurants, building drive-through windows. The construction company became successful, growing at 80 percent per year, according to Corker, and by the mid-1980s carried out projects in 18 states. He sold the company in 1990. In 1999, Corker acquired two of the largest real estate companies in Chattanooga: Osborne Building Corporation and Stone Fort Land Company. In 2006 he sold the properties and assets that had formed these companies to Chattanooga businessman Henry Luken.
In recognition of his business success, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga named him to their “Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.”
Now he and his wife live in a mansion constructed by Coca-Cola Bottling Company heirs Anne Lupton and Frank Harrison.
Corker would probably be a good pick on the theory that he wouldn’t do any harm and would bolster Trump on foreign policy while doing a bit to repair his problems with the base. Apparently, Corker is frustrated in the Senate despite his important position, so he might be looking for a long-shot move for a possible promotion.
I don’t see him as any kind of game-changer, though.