Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told the Tennessean on Monday afternoon that he turned down a recent offer from the Trump administration to become the United States Ambassador to Australia.
“But the retiring Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman declined, saying he turned down the chance to become the next U.S. ambassador to Australia,” the Tennessean reported:
“I had a number of conversations with both President (Donald) Trump and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo,” Corker said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. “At the end of the day though … it just felt like it wasn’t the right step.”
The Australian Financial Review reported earlier Monday that Corker was a leading contender for the job, along with fellow retiring GOP senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Corker said he was first approached about the position about three weeks ago. He spoke with Trump and Pompeo several times about the opportunity, but informed them last week of his decision to turn down the post.
As of late Monday evening, neither the White House nor the State Department had commented on Bob Corker’s claim.
President Donald Trump and Corker have had a contentious relationship over the past two years, and that well-documented history prompted a number of clever responses to the Australian ambassadorship story on Twitter.
“Trump offered Mars, but Bob Corker didn’t bite on that either,” Twitter user Geo Steve said.
— Geo Steve (@StephenGlahn) May 22, 2018
Mediate offered a one-word reaction: “Huh?”
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) May 21, 2018
“NOT the Onion,” was the reaction of the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin.
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) May 22, 2018
Corker announced in September that he would not seek a third term in the U.S. Senate, in part, because his constant criticisms of President Trump have left him extraordinarily unpopular with primary voting Republicans in his home state.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) has no challengers in her bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat Corker currently holds. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen is unchallenged in the Democratic primary. The two will face off in the general election in a race that a number of political analysts now call a toss-up. President Trump easily defeated Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016.