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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff Reports

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 11:23 AM

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STATE: Sen. Bob Corker: Hopes Comments Criticizing President Trump Will Cause Him To Unite Nation

NASHVILLE - Sen. Bob Corker said Friday he hoped his comments criticizing President Donald Trump for not strongly condemning the violent acts by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend will "influence (the president) and the people around him."

"We’ve got tremendous opportunities as a nation and there are so many things he has done that I agree with, but we are at a point with our nation where bringing about the best in the people in our nation, the best in the people in our country is where we need to be," Corker said in Nashville at the Operation Stand Down Tennessee Heroes Breakfast, a fundraiser for veterans.

"Not seeking to further divide our nation in order to stimulate your base, to energize your base."

Democrats and Republicans have condemned the demonstrations by white nationalists where 32-year-old Heather Heyer died after authorities say a 20-year-old Ohio man rammed his car into a crowd of counter protesters in Charlottesville.

Both parties have also condemned Trump's comments that left-wing groups were just as violent as the white supremacists who staged the demonstration. Many have raised questions about Trump's personal views of the racial tensions in the country.

At the Friday breakfast, Corker responded to questions about why he decided to criticize Trump on Thursday in Chattanooga after declining to weigh in on the president's handling of Charlottesville during a Knoxville event the day before.

"The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful — and our nation and our world needs for him to be successful, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” the Republican senator said at a Rotary Club meeting in Chattanooga.

Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he fears the nation will be in peril unless Trump makes radical changes at the White House.

He said Friday morning that he had not spoken to the president since making the comments.

USA TODAY contributed to this report.

Reporter Jordan Buie can be reached at 615-726-5970 or by email at Follow him on Twitter @jordanbuie.