Watch: Corker talks Trump, white supremacy, more

Corker greeted guests before Thursday's Rotary Club meeting. (Photo: Staff)

Authored By Chloé Morrison

U.S. Republican Sen. Bob Corker said that President Donald Trump lacks an understanding of the character of the nation and that the White House needs to make “radical changes”—otherwise, he fears for the country.

“The president has not been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” Corker told members of the media after speaking to Chattanooga’s Rotary Club Thursday. “And we need for him to be successful; our nation needs for him to be successful. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat … The world needs our president to be successful.”

During the meeting—which had a larger-than-usual attendance—Corker said that reporters want him to respond daily to the latest Trump tweet or the most recent presidential press conference that didn’t go as planned, but he tries to stay out of that.

He’s had to bite his tongue many times, he said.

Corker and Trump have developed an “unusual relationship,” he said.

“I’ve had the ability to affect our president, talk with him whenever I wish,” he said to Rotary members. “I find myself wanting to keep that because I know there are times when I’ve been able to affect something that matters a great deal to each of you and that matters to the world.”

The senator also said that Trump needs to do some self-reflection and move beyond himself.

“He needs to move to a place where daily he’s waking up thinking about what’s best for the nation,” he said.

After the Rotary meeting, he said that people on both sides of the aisle might misunderstand his actions. He reads reports daily of people thinking he’s not doing enough to criticize the president, or that he’s doing too much.

But as a person in a leadership position, he has a responsibility to try to overcome difficult issues.

“It takes more inner strength to be measured and try to solve problems,” he said.

The senator, who is also Chattanooga’s former mayor, denounced violence and white supremacy, and said that anything done to provoke more division to generate support from a political base is not a formula that’s going to benefit the country.

During the Rotary meeting, he also discussed the Department of State and said it’s not functioning properly.

And he commented on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom he called a friend.

“State Department positions have not been filled for a number of ridiculous reasons,” he said, adding that there has been bickering in the White House about that. “Thank God that Tillerson is having the patience to endure the fact that you have people micromanaging him at the White House.”

Before taking questions from members of the Rotary Club, he said that the thing that worries him the most is the lack of focus on fiscal issues.

Later, he took a question about a balanced budget amendment and said that would be a hollow gesture.

“Don’t be fooled by people who get out there championing a balanced budget amendment and will not cut spending and will not look at the things that are necessary to reduce the amount of the deficit,” he said.

In the video above, Corker also discusses other issues, such as the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust at the Capitol.