So this is what's become of our political process. An "independent expenditure" negative ad, which bears the endorsement of the RNC, can't be taken off the air even when the RNC Chairman and the candidate himself "want" it removed. In the spirit of civilized discourse,
I think ads like this have no place in politics. But at the same time, if the RNC can endorse these sorts of ads with impunity, why can't the DNC put together a patently offensive and racist ad, then just simply back away from it when there's an outcry? Although Timmeh and Wolf did a good job of pressing the issue, can you imagine the backlash the DNC would endure if they tried such a thing? If Parkinsons victims are "fair game", then what isn't?
BLITZER: All right. I know this is not your ad, but if you really, really wanted to get it lifted, you probably could.
CORKER: No, that's not true. We actually have been on national TV, as we are now. We've asked senators to call. These are independent expenditure
groups. We want it down. We do not believe that -- certainly it does not represent our campaign. We have nothing to do with it. We believe that it's
tacky and has no place in this race.
Full transcript via CNN:
BLITZER: And joining us now from Knoxville, Tennessee, Bob Corker.
He's the Republican candidate.
This is shaping up, Mr. Corker, as a very, very nasty race, two weeks
to go. There was this ad the Republicans put out in your state, and some are
suggesting that it's playing the race card in Tennessee. Listen to this little
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Harold at the Playboy party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republican National Committee is responsible
for the content of this advertising.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harold, call me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. I know this is not your ad, but if you really,
really wanted to get it lifted, you probably could.
CORKER: No, that's not true. We actually have been on national TV, as
we are now. We've asked senators to call. These are independent expenditure
groups. We want it down. We do not believe that -- certainly it does not
represent our campaign. We have nothing to do with it. We believe that it's
tacky and has no place in this race.
BLITZER: Is it -- you say it's tacky, but is it racist?
CORKER: You know, it's tacky and certainly has no place in this race.
BLITZER: But do you see why some are suggesting, including former
Republican senator, former defense secretary, William Cohen, here in "THE
SITUATION ROOM" yesterday, that it's certainly almost like playing the race
CORKER: Well, again, I've seen the ad one time on a computer. I've
never even seen it on television. I don't like it. I've asked for it to come
down. I don't know what else we can do.
I know many people are calling the RNC on our behalf to see what can be
done to get it down, but we have nothing to do with it. I'm out campaigning
all across the state of Tennessee, giving my message of making sure that we're
safe and secure, making sure that we live within our means, making sure we
pursue economic growth and preserve those great traditions that have made our
state and country great. And I feel nothing but positive energy.
Really, I don't hear anything about this except from the media.
Obviously, we've demanded that it comes down, but we're out campaigning...
BLITZER: But you...
CORKER: There's a tremendous positive energy.
BLITZER: Mr. Corker, excuse me for interrupting, have you called Ken
Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican Party, and asked him to pull it?
CORKER: Our campaign officials have talked to people at very high
levels there and asked that this comes down. I don't know who specifically has
talked to who, but I know it began the very first day...
BLITZER: But what about you? Have you made a call to the RNC? Have
you made a call to the White House and told...
CORKER: They are -- they are...
BLITZER: ... and told Republicans, you know what, I think this is
hurting the state of Tennessee, hurting this debate, and I'd like to see it go
CORKER: Everybody at the RNC, from the top down, knows that I want
this down. There are senators who are my friends, some of which are inside,
that are making calls, to do the same. Everyone knows that we want it down.
And look, I'm out here campaigning. We have nothing whatsoever to do
with the ad. As a matter of fact, I wish that my opponent would join me in
asking that the ads that are being run by the DNC would come down. Both of
them have no place in this race. And we are very proud of the things that we
ourselves are doing. The momentum shift in this race has been substantial over
the last two or three weeks. We've built a lead and we're going to win this
race if we just keep doing what we're doing on the ground. We do not need that
type of activity in our race.
BLITZER: He's complaining bitterly, Harold Ford Jr., that instead of
going after him directly, you're going after his family, you're making his
family an issue, and he says that a real man wouldn't do that.
CORKER: Well, I think we saw a real man in Friday in Memphis, and I
think what we saw as someone who does not have the comportment nor the
temperament nor the ability to be a statesman and really deal with the issues
that we have to deal with in the United States Senate that are so complex and
need to be worked through.
BLITZER: But why bring up the issue of his father or other family
members when you, by your own account, you have plenty to go with going after
CORKER: The only thing that has been brought up by me in this race was
questioning his father lobbying him -- he was on the Financial Services
Committee, and within 60 days after joining that committee, Fannie Mae hired
his dad to lobby that committee.
I questioned that. I think it's a reasonable thing. As a matter of
fact, last week, "USA Today" said that 80 percent of Americans are concerned
about family members lobbying members of Congress. I don't think that --
that's certainly not a personal attack of any kind ...
BLITZER: Let me ask you ...
CORKER: ...and actually -- OK.
BLITZER: Let me ask you if this quote from the Nashville "Tennessean"
is accurate on October 19th: "I'm making an observation that it's pretty much
a family business, and I think it's something we all see and know, that there's
a type of machine-type politics." It sounds like you're going after his
family, as least in that quote, if it's accurate.
CORKER: These are public officials. There is a Ford family ballot.
I've never said a disparaging word about my opponent's character or any of his
family members. Never. I think it's really interesting that there's actually
a Ford family ballot. That's unusual. I don't know how many places in the
country have family ballots.
It's an observation that actually I only knew about because the media
in our state has played such attention to that over the last decade. Again, to
me that is not a personal attack. These are all elected officials. All we're
doing is making an observation. Not a negative word has been said.
We have been focused. It's my opponent that continues to bring up the
family issue in every prompt that he gets. We've been focused on the issues
every single day. We have a new issues statement. We're out campaigning, and
I believe, for that reason, we're going to win the race.
BLITZER: You've got two weeks to go. Bob Corker, thanks very much for
coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll let you go back and campaign.
CORKER: Thank you, sir. Thank you.