Speed Reads

A Different Drum

GOP Sen. Bob Corker declines to back GOP candidate to replace him, defends migrants caravanning to U.S.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) spoke before a crowd of friends and acquaintances at the Chattanooga Rotary Club on Thursday, and he defended President Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran deal, said he thinks Saudi Arabia should be punished for murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and declined to endorse the Republican running to replace him, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R), saying he was friends with both her and Democrat Phil Bredesen and thought either would make a good senator for Tennessee. Blackburn is favored to win.

Corker, who declined to seek re-election, also defended the migrants walking toward the U.S. border from Central America, where "there's unbelievable corruption, they're being tortured," and their countries have terrible leaders. "I look around the room, and I know most of you pretty well," he added. "I have a feeling that if you were living in one of these Central American countries and you had little girls and little boys you were raising, you might be trying to figure out a way to come to the great United States of America."

Trump has been using the caravan as a campaign cudgel and Blackburn released an ad last week demonizing the migrants. On Wednesday, Corker said the U.S. must have "borders that are real" and enforce its immigration laws, but "I've just never been angry at someone who wants to come to the greatest nation on Earth and live the kind of life that we lead," he told reporters.

Corker also laughed off the conspiracy theory that Democrats are funding the caravan, saying when a friend texted it to him, "I said, are you kidding me? If anybody's funding it, it's some Republican donor, because it has obviously turned into an election issue that has benefited the Republican side."