Donald Trump has two to three weeks to fix his campaign or lose so much Republican support that it would doom his run for the presidency, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told Yahoo News on Tuesday.
“He’s obviously stepped in it. He’s made statements that are inappropriate,” Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, said in a telephone interview. The senator was referring to Trump’s widely condemned declaration that a Mexican-American judge is unfit to preside over a Trump University lawsuit because of the judge’s heritage.
“He’s got this defining period that’s over the next two or three weeks where he could pivot, can pivot, hopefully will pivot to a place where he becomes a true general election candidate,” Corker warned.
His warnings are notable because of his efforts to build bridges between Trump’s unorthodox campaign and wary establishment Republicans. If Trump makes the necessary changes, “he’ll have armies of people who are willing to help” secure victory in November, the senator said.
The brash entrepreneur could “change the trajectory of this country,” Corker said. In contrast, he said “that’s not a possibility” for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton because her party has moved leftward on issues like reining in entitlement spending.
Facing rejection from many conservative movement thinkers, Trump helped his case last month by releasing a list of jurists he would consider appointing to the Supreme Court. But he “100 percent” squandered the resulting goodwill with his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, Corker said.
Corker, whose name has been floated as a potential Trump vice presidential pick or nominee for secretary of state, also tried to tamp down speculation that he’s angling for a top Trump administration job. The rumors escalated after he praised Trump’s late-April foreign policy speech. Some people who know Corker well say it’s not in his blood to be someone else’s surrogate and that he would chafe at the limitations of a traditional vice presidency. They acknowledge, however, that he could be tempted to try his hand at being the nation’s top diplomat.
But Corker scoffed at the notion that was he in “any kind of job-application mode.” He insisted that his meeting with the candidate in late May was just a get-acquainted chat between “two people who did not know each other.” As for a possible role in a Trump administration, “we haven’t had any of those kinds of discussions,” Corker said.
He compared his praise for Trump’s foreign policy address to “trying to lay a bread trail towards a better place” for the Trump campaign and encourage fellow Republicans to engage their presumptive nominee rather than going “the total dis route.”
“It wasn’t, like, the best speech I ever heard on foreign policy, but it was at a critical time where he was moving away it appeared from the daily personality campaign to one where he tried to give a substantive speech,” Corker said.
Corker also said he has spoken with former Secretary of State James Baker before and after Baker’s own meetings with Trump.
“He’s got a period of time here that is incredibly important to his campaign to demonstrate that he has the ability to become a general election candidate, to move away from personality issues and move more towards substantive policy issues,” Corker said. “If he keeps moving towards the convention with similar types of weeks like the last one, I just fear that he’s going to be in a position that doesn’t really allow him to fully take advantage of this incredible opportunity.”