After President Barack Obama's visit to Chattanooga last month, Sen. Bob Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, refrained from offering a political take on the visit.
But in an editorial board meetingwith The Tennessean newspaper Thursday, the senator revealed the driving reason behind his last-minute decision not to attend—politics.
"The speech was not about advancing a grand bargain at all," Corker was quoted saying in The Tennessean report. "He knew what he was doing in Chattanooga. I knew what he was doing in Chattanooga. It had nothing to do with what we were doing at the White House."
Corker said the White House sent an advanced copy of Obama's remarks to his office the morning of the president's visit, and after reading them, he and his staff decided the address was nothing more than "a political speech." The senator added that at the time he knew he would be attending a meeting with Obama and White House staff later that week to discuss fiscal issues.
On the day of the president's visit, Corker attended multiple hearings and cast five votes on items on the Senate floor.
"I sort of figured my day job was important to do," he said.
Before the president's visit to Chattanooga, Corker's office had said the Senator would not attend because of the Senate being in session and schedule conflicts with committee hearings and votes. On the day of Obama's trip, Corker said he "hated" not being able to accompany the president to his hometown and refrained from mentioning or criticizing any of the proposals the president put forward.
While in Nashville Thursday, the senator also reiterated recent comments criticizing a plan being shopped by Republican members of Congress to oppose an upcoming funding bill that includes monies marked for implementation of the Affordable Care Act. According to a WKRN report, the senator described the effort as "sad."
"It's kind of disingenuous," Corker said. "And it's unfortunate that people around the country are being sold this because it just won't work."
The senator emphasized that although he strongly opposed the president's signature health law, any plan to "defund Obamacare" was shortsighted because most funding for the law was apportioned through mandatory spending.
"[It's] not even something we take up as part of the continuing resolutions," the senator said.
Updated @ 3:55 p.m. on 8/23/13 to add more information.
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