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VOL. 129 | NO. 158 | Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tennessee's Corker Won't Rule Out Presidential Bid

ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press

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LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said Wednesday he isn't ruling out joining the field of Republicans running for president in 2016, but any decision would wait until next year.

Corker, who is two years into his second term, also noted that his wife, Elizabeth, may be wary of the intense media attention and scrutiny a presidential candidate takes on.

If Corker joined the race, he would face Republicans with higher national profiles such as potential candidates such as fellow Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Corker also hasn't taken any clear steps to organize or make appearances in early primary states.

"There are times when I do wish I could have the kind of impact and create the kind of change and have the kind of vision for our country that think so many people here in Tennessee would like to see happen," said Corker, who is the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Corker said running for president would be a tough sell with his wife, who has remained in Chattanooga while he has served in Washington and "loves her anonymity."

"Sometimes when people begin to look at running for president, they start doing things that are just politically expedient," he said during a chamber of commerce appearance in Lawrenceburg, about 70 miles south of Nashville.

He told The Associated Press after the event that he has not been in talks with major donors and that he has not planned any trips to early primary states.

The senator cited fatigue from a recent trip to Southeast Asia for what he called "a stream of consciousness" answer on possible presidential bid.

"I'll probably be ridiculed when I get into the car," he said.

Following his election in 2006, Corker became deeply involved in negotiations on the auto bailout and financial regulation, bringing the perspective of a multimillionaire businessman and a former mayor to talks with Democrats and the White House. Corker's willingness to work across the aisle with Democrats has not always sat well with the conservative base of the GOP.

In June, Corker was the top Republican sponsor of a bipartisan Senate proposal to raise federal gasoline and diesel taxes for the first time in more than two decades to pay for highway and transit programs.

The proposed gas tax hike has been unpopular among some fellow Republicans and was a campaign issue in Tennessee's primary last week. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee's senior senator, distanced himself from Corker's plan.

Alexander won a closer-than-expected race last week against tea party-backed state Rep. Joe Carr.

Corker made his fortune as the head of a construction company he founded, and has sometimes chafed at trying to craft deals and consensus in the Senate. The presidency, he said, would offer more direct control over his vision.

"I will say that the order of magnitude of the impact one can have in Washington is vastly different for a senator, versus being the president," he said. "It's not even in the same spectrum."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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