April 8th, 2009
08:30 AM ET
5 years ago

Bob Corker to headline South Carolina GOP dinner

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker will deliver the keynote address to the South Carolina GOP's Silver Elephant Banquet.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker will deliver the keynote address to the South Carolina GOP's Silver Elephant Banquet.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker will headline the South Carolina Republican Party’s annual Silver Elephant Banquet in May, a state party official tells CNN.

The speaking slot offers the senator a chance to impress the South Carolina GOP establishment at the party’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and because of the state’s crucial role in the presidential nominating process, Corker’s visit could spark chatter about his future political aspirations.

Past speakers at the event have included Mike Pence, George Allen, John McCain, Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan. The banquet was also the setting for two Republican presidential primary debates in 1996 and 2000.

Although Corker isn’t currently thought to have ambitions beyond the Senate, he is regarded as a rising star within the Republican caucus and won plaudits on both sides of the aisle last December for crafting an alternative to President Bush’s plan to bail out the auto industry.

South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson described Corker - the former mayor of Chattanooga who came to the Senate in 2006 after a tough campaign against Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. - as “a conservative that offers common sense solutions to our nation’s toughest challenges.”

The party will make the announcement on Wednesday.

The South Carolina GOP had planned to invite Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to speak at the dinner, according to a state Republican operative familiar with the plans, but discussions with Palin’s political advisers on the East Coast ended after the governor’s staff in Alaska “shot it down.”

Meg Stapleton, a spokeswoman for Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC, said that the governor’s office in Alaska declined the speaking offer two separate times, once in December and again several weeks ago, when the South Carolina GOP put in a second request through the PAC.

Stapleton said Palin is not even considering “the thousands of invitations and requests” she has received until the Alaska legislative session ends on April 19.

“During the tight timeline of the legislative session, the governor is focused on the state and achieving her goals for the state,” Stapleton said. “SarahPAC looks forward to presenting many of the appearance requests to the governor once the session ends in a few weeks.”

The session hasn’t stopped Palin from scheduling two out-of-state trips in the coming months paid for by SarahPAC: She’s appearing at the Vanderburgh County Right to Life banquet in Indiana on April 16, and will travel to upstate New York in June to attend an event honoring Alaska’s 50th anniversary at the childhood home of William Seward, who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia


Filed under: Bob Corker • Sarah Palin • South Carolina
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. tex

    He`ll probably just be "preaching to the chorus'.

    April 8, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    This is news outside of South Carolina? YAWN

    April 8, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. Dan

    Absolutely brilliant idea. Given the choice, who wouldn't want a positive corker at your party?

    April 8, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  4. Liberal and Proud of It.com

    For the Conservative (Republican) Party to get any respect at all, they are going to have to put forward a better quality of leader than the lackluster political hacks that currently pass for a leadership. Republican leadership has fallen to a disrespectable level. The Party of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower has fallen on bad times, to say the least. I would not trust the current leadership to hold a horse, much less run the nation.

    We gave them a chance to show us what they could do. They invaded Iraq for no good reason, added $8 trillion to the national debt, ran a massive deficit every year they were in power, and ran the economy off the cliff.

    If they had had a few more years in power, I guess they would have sold our interstate highway system to Dubai to operate as toll roads, closed our public schools, or invaded England. They remind me of the old Keystone Cops silent short films.

    April 8, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  5. Harry

    Come on man! Bob Corker? Really?

    A Republican rising star? Really?

    He's like the FOURTY FIFTH Republican rising star this week.

    Granted that after Palin the "Republican rising star" bar has been lowered significantly, pretty soon all you'll need to be considered the "future of the party" is a friggin suit and a flag pin.

    April 8, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. Bev

    Bob Corker is a very smart businessman and as a leader in my area I applaud any and all ambitions this senator has. He has done wonderful things for Tennessee and takes care of his people. I have voiced my opinion to his office on all major topics and have always received a reply. In my view he would do what is right for the country over any other interest...which is more than the Democrats can say. All they care about is their party.

    April 8, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. Sniffit

    And the menu? One word: CROW.

    Eat up guys!

    April 8, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  8. Soaponarope

    As a Tennessean I am always turned off by Senator Corker. This is the same man who put out the most racist campaign advertisement I've ever seen. If you live here you will remember the advertisement and what I am talking about. He disgusts me.

    April 8, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  9. Gary

    They could invite Bozo the Clown to speak, it doesn't really matter.

    April 8, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. Ashamed in Texas

    I find it interesting that at this time when universities are scheduling their grad-day speakers, not a one has invited "I can see the space between her ears" Palin to offer her progressive ideas for the future of America. ;o)

    April 8, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. David

    I can't wait until Alaska's legislative session is over where we can then see her continue to turn down public speaking engagements. She only does okay if someone hands her a script and afterwards says 'no questions'. She is afraid if she actually has to answer questions people will see the true Palin (i.e. Katie Couric interview).

    April 8, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. proud army navy mom

    The Tn assembly will vote today if guns should be allowed on college campus. It is expeceted to pass.

    Ask idiot Corker if he supports it, and watch him hee and haw, without answering the question.

    April 8, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  13. Dave in Arizona

    Sparkle and fade...

    April 8, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. mike

    Corker is out for Corker. He helps bring in a foreign car company to his city and then TRAMPLES on GM and the union......then says he wants what is best for his voters. Loser!!!!!!!!!

    He was able to outspend Ford and buy the election.

    Corker may be conservative....what does that mean in today's world. What is his answers to issues.........c'mon Bob....tell us...please

    April 8, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. pat C.

    if mr. corker is smart he will keep his message positive and not bash obama. .we are sick to death of hearing nothing productive come out of these republicans mouths to help the president rebuild what bush destroyed for the last 8 years. it is time for the GOP to come to the table and work with not against everything the president is trying to do. the republican party is shrinking already so a few positive words may help give them a little more credibility.

    April 8, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Terry

    The Republican Party is like a chicken with no head. The body runs around, falling into things and over things in a brainless effort to escape another blow from the axe.

    The little men who pass for Republican leaders are merely empty thousand dollar suits mouthing words that they heard from Ronald Reagan when they were in their twenties and thirties. They do not understand what their policies would accomplish or how they would implement them. All they know is that they have a good job, the pay is nice, the benefits are fabulous, and they hear applause every time they say something. (Republicans will applaud anyone who includes the phrases "free market" or "tax cut" in every sentence.)

    There are some smart Conservatives. I have met them. There are none, however, in public life.

    April 8, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    The GOP can spin its policies anyway you want? This IS supposed to be the Republican Party, the party that was committed for this Nation to remain as a Republic under the laws of the U.S. Constitution.
    I see none of that coming from the GOP in the last three decades. They have expanded Government as much as the Democrats, so where does that leave the American Citizen when both parties continue to expand government into our private lives, this is why the Libertarian party is growing, it is time for the return to being a free country isn’t it?

    April 8, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. Maggie from Virginia

    You would think all these dinners would produce some semblance of a collective idea that would help move America forward. Their only focus is gaining power.

    April 8, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  19. ross berg- Buffalo, NY

    Even though she's clearly an air-head I'd much rather watch Sarah Palin anyday!!!

    April 8, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. grahame

    It's obvious that they didn't offer Palin enough perks to attend.

    You Republicans want Obama to fail.

    I have news!!!! The Republicans by their willingness to embrace Sarah Palin have already failed and under their old stucture of divide and spread fear they will never win..................Ever'

    So be prepared for a Democratic controlled everything as far as the eye can see into the future.

    April 8, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. Lori

    From what I'm reading, Corker is a racist. If that is true so much for change and new direction for the Republican party. If this man really ran an ad suggesting his black opponent was sleeping with a white woman and he won, then this is sadder than I thought. Just another example of how little the Republican party is willing to change. The Democrats may not be perfect but at least they wouldn't be putting THIS guy on a pedestal. Yikes GOP!

    April 8, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  22. gewe

    one minute a rising star next minute a shooting star next batter two out

    April 8, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. Fay Tx

    @David April 8th, 2009 9:54 am ET
    I can't wait until Alaska's legislative session is over where we can then see her continue to turn down public speaking engagements. She only does okay if someone hands her a script and afterwards says 'no questions'. She is afraid if she actually has to answer questions people will see the true Palin (i.e. Katie Couric interview).
    David you are SOOOOO RIGHT !!!!

    April 8, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Lynn

    Republican reproval ratings have slipped to 31% the lowest in 25 years...

    April 8, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Sniffit

    @ Gary, who said "They could invite Bozo the Clown to speak, it doesn't really matter."

    I'm pretty sure Bozo would politely decline and send them a Giant Tootsie Roll consolation prize. :-)

    April 8, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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