Defending his friendship with a Democratic challenger to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., running for his seat, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says he is "supporting our nominee," despite a reluctance to campaign against Gov. Phil Bredesen, D-Tenn.
"I sent maximum contribution to the Republican nominee on our side," Sen. Corker told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "I said I plan to vote for this person [Blackburn] . . .
"Bredesen is my friend – I'm not going to campaign against him – but I am supporting our nominee."
Corker, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump who is not seeking re-election in 2018, told CNN host Dana Bash he has vowed to GOP leadership his party trumps friendship when asked what makes Blackburn a better candidate than Bredesen.
"I think most people in our state, it is a red state, will focus on the first vote she makes, and that's the vote to elect the majority leader," Corker responded. "I think at the end of the day that's going to be a big factor in the race."
Bash quipped "that's not a ringing endorsement," to which Corker replied some tepid hesitation.
"I'm supporting the nominee," Corker said. "I have worked with the nominee for sometime, and I don't know what else to say."
Coincidentally, Corker did not mention Blackburn by name, only referring to her as "she," "this person," and "our nominee."
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., shed some light on Corker's tepid support for Blackburn.
"All politics is personal – this is really a case in point," Santorum told "State of the Union." "Number one, as mayor of Chattanooga, Bob Corker had a great relationship with Phil Bredesen . . . and Marsha Blackburn boxed Bob Corker out of maybe making a comeback and maybe running again.
"It's personal. I understand that. This is a very difficult thing. He is stepping forward and saying, 'she will cast the right vote; I'm for the nominee. That is all you are going to get out of me. On a personal side I'm just not there.'
"He sort of laid it out there. I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with that. I think I understand it. Good for Bob Corker."
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