U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., brought his "earned success" message to the Knox County Republican faithful Saturday night, saying "free enterprise is what has made our nation great."
He spoke to some 500 people at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner at Rothchild Catering & Conference Center and was interviewed briefly after arriving from Chattanooga right as the dinner was getting under way.
Corker has been using the "earned success" theme in speeches this month as he talks about the need to lessen government involvement and get the nation's deficit under control. Essentially he is saying people are more gratified with anything they earn rather than having something given to them, an aide explained.
Corker said the financial crisis three years ago left a vacuum that needs to be addressed. The government got involved in a lot of things that need some undoing, he said.
Just this past week the Senate considered a two-year reauthorization of the federal highway bill, which Corker opposed because he felt the spending outpaced supporting gasoline tax revenues in the federal trust fund. He did support a 90-day extension that lets construction projects continue until Congress can determine if it can agree on a two-year plan.
In an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post on March 8, Corker argued that the Senate "must be honest with the American people and find a way to align highway trust fund revenue with responsible spending so that they meet our country's infrastructure needs without adding to the deficit."
Corker has announced he will seek a second six-year term and has turned in his qualifying petition to run. He acted very much a candidate at Saturday night's dinner, shaking hands the minute he walked into the dining room. After a few minutes with a reporter, he excused himself and said he wanted to go talk with people who had come to the dinner, which is what he did instead of taking his seat at the head table.
During the interview he was asked if he is going to make an endorsement in the four-way Republican presidential primary race. He has not so far but may change his mind, he said. Asked the circumstances in which he might announce his favorite, he replied, "I would rather see the process unfold."
Corker was introduced by U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, who planned to read a statement by Dr. Milton Wolf, a physician who is President Barack Obama's cousin and an opponent of the national health care act and particularly a requirement that U.S. citizens have health insurance, unless it is struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Duncan said he agreed with Wolf that if the health care act remains intact, "there will be no part of your life the government cannot control."