As Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) exits Congress after 12 years in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, the outspoken Republican lawmaker says he’s “proud” that incoming Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has already picked up where he left off by speaking his mind regarding President Donald Trump when necessary.
“I have a ton of respect for Mitt, and I was proud,” Corker told IJR when asked about Romney’s controversial pre-emptive strike against the president a day before being sworn into office.
“I actually talked to him yesterday, and I just know he’s gonna be a great asset here in the Senate and to our country,” he added while brandishing his signature lidless cup of coffee.
When asked what advice he gave to Romney on navigating the Senate and being an independent voice in Washington, Corker laughed.
“I didn’t!” he said. “He’s far superior to me, I don’t need to give him any advice.”
Corker, the former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, did say that he’s especially looking forward to the former Republican presidential nominee getting involved in foreign relations matters.
“I’m particularly thrilled he’s coming on the Foreign Relations Committee,” he said. “He’ll make a big difference.”
Like Corker, Romney has clashed with the president regarding multiple issues, including the administration’s handling of foreign policy.
The freshman Utah senator made it clear this week that he plans to use his voice in Congress to speak out against the president when he sees fit and in a similar fashion to how Corker and other #NeverTrump lawmakers have since Trump’s taken office.
Romney wrote in a Washington Post op-ed:
A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.
The senator then doubled down on bashing Trump during an interview with CNN while also offering a defense for accepting the president’s 2018 midterm endorsement.
“He was endorsing me, I wasn’t endorsing him,” Romney said. “And I haven’t decided who I’m going to endorse in 2020. I’m going to wait and see what the alternatives are.”
In response, Trump called on Romney to be a “team player.”
Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2019
As for Corker, the exiting senator doesn’t seem ready to accept slipping into irrelevance anytime soon.
“I do think that we’ve got to remember what the Republican Party is,” he said recently in an interview with MSNBC.