An Exclusive Mini-Interview With Bob Corker
Yesterday, I did a phone mini-interview with Bob Corker, the GOP candidate for the Senate in Tennessee. Corker’s race against Harold Ford is incredibly important because if the Democrats are going to take over the Senate, it looks like they’re going to have to beat Bob Corker to do it.
So, with the election just a few weeks away and with the race between Corker and Harold Ford considered to be a dead heat by most pollsters, he agreed to be interviewed by Right Wing News. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation:
John Hawkins: If a Tennessee voter were to come up to you and say, “Bob, give me 3 differences between you and Harold Ford, that would convince me to vote for you, what would you say to him?”
Bob Corker: Oh gosh, coming up with only 3 would be tough. …We have a totally, totally different view of the world as it relates to what the federal government should and should not be doing. I obviously embrace those…conservative common sense values that have made Tennessee great. He is the most liberal voting member of the Tennessee delegation. He votes 88% of the time like Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy.
He opposed the tax cuts in ’01 and ’03. Opposed their extensions. Opposed doing away with the death tax as foolish. Opposed capital gains cuts up until the very last (time) when he was running for the United States Senate. He opposed doing away with the marriage penalty. Opposed Judge Alito and said so publicly. I can go on and on and on and on. But, his view of what we should do nationally and what I think should happen nationally could not be more different.
John Hawkins: Now, we just talked a little bit about the issues. Now if there were some other things you could have the voters in Tennessee know about Harold Ford, what his background is like, any sort of ethical problems he has, what would they be?
Bob Corker: You know, I have stayed away from those sorts of issues. I think though, that what people see is a Ford political machine. People in the state have seen a Ford in his seat now for the last 32 years. You know, politics is the family business….One of his cousins ran in the Democratic primary and lost, so now his brother is running as an independent for that same seat. I think you know that his father lobbies down in Washington. (Harold Ford) sits on the financial services committee and oversees Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae hired his dad to be a lobbyist. I could go into a lot of other issues, but it’s probably not appropriate for me to do (that). But,…politics to my opponent is truly the family business. It’s what he does and what he has always done.
It’s just a very different approach to public service. I approach it with a tremendous sense of mission, to really put those changes in place to make our country stronger and this is just what he does, if you will, for a living.
John Hawkins: Now, if we’re talking about the sort of conservatives who read my blog, there are probably three issues that they care about the most. Those issues are illegal immigration, deficit spending, and the war in Iraq. So, tell us about where you stand on those issues.
Bob Corker: …We need to secure our border. There are all kinds of technology available for us to be able to do that easily. Obviously in the more urban and congested areas, we need to have barriers.
Number 2, we need to allow people to work in our country only if they’re legal.
…Thirdly, anybody who is here illegally, I believe should return home and only come back through legal channels. Senator Cornyn of Texas has done some good work in that regard. I know that’s controversial, but I believe it’s the only way to deal with the issue in the appropriate way.
Fourthly, I believe we should have an instant certification process so people know if (workers) are here legally or not. There’s a tremendous amount of document fraud that takes place all across our country. And, I think employers who abuse (the process) ought to be punished.
My last point is that I really do believe that if people wish to become citizens, which is aside from illegal immigration …I think people who want to become citizens need to learn the English language and understand what it means to be an American. Those are my views on illegal immigration.
John Hawkins: …Now, quick follow-up question on illegal immigration. Are you prepared to say, given what you just said, that you’d have been prepared to vote against the Senate immigration bill had you been in the Senate?
Bob Corker: There is no question that I would have voted against the Senate legislation.
…On deficit spending, I think that one of the reasons, today, that Republicans have so much wind in their face at the national level…people talk about the war in Iraq, people talk about a lot of things, but I think it has been the spending. Spending has caused people across this country to look at Republicans in a different way. It’s like we’ve lost our brand at the national level of being the Party of limited government. I am very concerned about the culture in Washington today, the lack of focus on putting downward pressure on government spending. I can assure you that if I’m elected, I will be somebody that focuses every day on that issue.
I came in as Commissioner Of Finance, John, in the middle-nineties when (we had a) 250 million…gap in our state budget and through cuts, was able to balance our budget. And, I still have people in the state of Tennessee that won’t support me in this race because of some of those cuts. But, that’s just what you have to do to keep our country strong and keep Tennessee strong.
…As far as the war in Iraq goes, like most Tennesseans, I think we did not go to Iraq with enough troops in the first place. I don’t think we listened to the military commanders on the ground in the way that we should have and I really do believe that we need to listen to them, that we need to make sure that they’ve got the tools and equipment necessary. I think we need to focus on the hot spots like Baghdad and get civil order in those places. We need to disarm the militias. You know, if you think about the way that Iraq is, it’s almost like every politician has his own militia. You can see where that is the formula for tremendous chaos there. …And, I think we need to continue to work hard to train the (people of Iraq) to defend their country and as soon as we do that…I look forward to bringing (our troops) home. I think that the worst thing we could do in Iraq right now would be to leave prior to the Iraqi people being able to secure themselves.
John Hawkins: Both you and Harold Ford have pledged self-imposed term limits in the Senate. But, of course, sometimes politicians who make those sort of pledges don’t stick to them…
Bob Corker: Right.
John Hawkins: If you were elected, would you be willing to support legislation making term limits mandatory?
Bob Corker: Sure. …I think one of the reasons that we’re seeing a lack of focus on fiscal spending in Washington is that I think the Republicans have started to act like the party in power. There have been things like the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska and I can cite other examples. And, I realize that those are not the bigger ticket items, but they create a mentality there that I think is unhealthy. Listen, I have served 5 1/2 years total in the public arena and I came from one of those families where you go do what you say you’re going to do and then you leave. I served a year and a half as the Commissioner of Finance in our state. It was a job to do. I went in and I did it and I left. I did the same thing as Mayor (of Chattanooga). I loved being Mayor more than anything I’ve ever done in my entire life, but I had done everything I said I would do.
John Hawkins: Ok…(thank you for answering my questions, I really appreciate your time!)
Bob Corker: …Thank you!