Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is emerging as a finalist in the search for Donald Trump’s running mate, met privately with the presumptive GOP nominee on Tuesday in New York and was scheduled to later fly with the candidate to Raleigh, N.C.
"Looking forward to meeting with [Corker] in a little while. We will be traveling to North Carolina together today,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The meeting was held at Trump Tower, Trump’s Manhattan skyscraper, and served as an opportunity for him to bond with Corker — the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee — as he evaluates his short list. Corker last visited Trump Tower in May.
The day of conversation and travel with Trump comes as Corker is being formally vetted for the vice-presidential nomination by Washington lawyer A.B. Culvahouse Jr. In recent weeks, Corker has provided documents to Culvahouse and been in close touch with top Trump advisers, according to two Republicans familiar with the selection process.
Culvahouse, a former White House counsel, has deep roots in Tennessee politics, going back to his time as an aide to Howard Baker, who was a senator and a towering figure in state history. Culvahouse has known Corker for years.
The Republicans spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details of Corker’s talks with Trump and of his vice-presidential vetting have been closely guarded by campaign officials. Spokesmen for Trump and Corker were unreachable for comment Tuesday.
But one Republican described the rapport between Trump and Corker as “natural and strong even if they aren’t the closest of friends” and said they share maverick instincts and an aversion to the hawkish tilt on foreign policy that has dominated their party.
Trump has publicly stated for months that he appreciates Corker’s willingness to defend parts of his non-traditional approach to foreign policy and to argue his case to wary colleagues in the Senate cloakroom.
Corker, 63, has in recent years become a central figure in policy negotiations with the Obama administration, especially during the debate over the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, when he offered a proposal — which the administration opposed — for Congress to review and vote on the pact. He previously served as mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn.
Still, even though Corker is at Trump’s side Tuesday, he is far from the only contender to be on the ticket. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are being vetted by Culvahouse, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence met with Trump on Saturday at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, N.J. And Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) met with Trump on Monday, also in New Jersey.
Trump’s event in Raleigh on Tuesday evening will be at the Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, hours after President Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton appeared before a cheering crowd of supporters in Charlotte.