Former Chattanooga mayor and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Bob Corker knew who his boss was when he stepped into Asbury Place to meet residents Tuesday afternoon.
"I just do whatever Helen tells me to do when Im here," he said, referring to longtime Republican Helen Webb, an Asbury resident. Webbs response drew laughter from the residents.
"Dont embarrass me," she said. "Im not running for office."
Corker was in East Tennessee most of the day Tuesday, visiting
Holston Middle School in Knoxville, the Blount County
Republican Headquarters, Asbury Place and his Monroe County campaign headquarters. In Blount, he was joined by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan.
Before he and Sen. Lamar Alexander stopped in at Asbury, Corker, Alexander and Duncan talked about the importance of the race at the Blount County Republican Party Headquarters. Alexander said East Tennessee needs a senator who, among other things, could help create incentives for teachers and improvements in clean air. Most importantly, Alexander said, Corker is an East Tennessean who thinks like East Tennesseans think.
"It would be like East Tennessee had two senators," he said.
Corker said East Tennessee was very important in his campaign and highlighted his ties to the area. Corker said he has relatives and property in the area and that he attended the University of Tennessee, where he met his wife on a blind date. His company helped build Foothills Mall.
"East Tennessee is very, very important," Corker said.
When asked what he needed to do as far as percentages in East Tennessee in order to win the election, Corker didnt want to be specific. "Blount County was very good to us in the primary," he said.
The importance of the Tennessee race also hinges on the fact that the race could alter who controls the Senate. "This is in fact a clear choice," Corker said. "This race could decide the balance of power."
Corker took his opponent Harold Ford to task for raising money outside the state of Tennessee. "He raised more money from Hollywood than anyone other than the representative from Hollywood," Corker said.
Duncan told the crowd gathered at the Republican Party Headquarters
he was optimistic for a Republican victory on Nov. 7.
"Were going to have big, big victories, starting with Bob Corker," Duncan said. "Bob Corker is, I think, the most qualified candidate running for any office in this country."
Alexander was quick to note the difference between the two candidates. "Bob knows us. Weve got a choice between an East Tennessean who knows us and our issues and an attractive man from Memphis who has been in Congress since he graduated law school," Alexander said.
Corker pledged he would work hard. "I promise I will do everything I can. If were successful, youll have a senator, not from D.C., but from Tennessee," he said.
Corker took issue with Fords record and said he missed more votes than any other Congressman. "But Im glad he did," Corker added, "(since) he voted against the 03 tax cuts."
Corker said he was for tort reform and affordable health care, ensuring security today and opportunities for prosperity in the future. "The biggest difference to me is Ive had a lifetime of experience solving problems," he said.
Several in the audience spoke highly of Corker. "Im for him,"
said Glenna McConnell. "My husband is, too," she said.
Betty Tatum said she liked Corker. "I didnt know him before, but I like what he had to say," she said.
Helen Webb was also optimistic. "I think hes going to make us a good senator for sure, no doubt," she said.
In 1994, Corker ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary against Sen. Bill Frist. Corker said Tuesday he learned a valuable lesson from that campaign. "Obviously, start early," he said. "Ive got 130,000 miles on my car. Ive been to all 95 counties. Its been beneficial. What this does is, it prepares you to be a U.S. Senator," he said.
The day wasnt without some lighter moments. At Asbury Place, Corker got a somewhat odd compliment from one female resident.
"Youre better looking than on your commercials," she said.
Corker responded quickly. "Well have to do something about those commercials," he said with a laugh.