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. David

    As a resident from the Great State of Tennessee, I am greatly embarrassed by the election of Bob Corker. He is a Republican who clings to the former GOP Platform of God, Guns and Gays. Creating pseudo fear for ignorant minds. Unfortunately, Tennessee is not known for its Exceptional Educated Populace as evident by the people they elect.

    Maybe he will stay in SC!

    April 8, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. The GOP's Frankenstein

    A white guy from the south? Wherever did the GOP find one of those?!?

    April 8, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. magella

    What's really funny is that every day or two there's a post about some Republican speaking somewhere, with speculation about whether he/she is the next "rising star" of the party. I am convinced this is their strategy–throw some people out there and see if one "sticks" by generating any positive interest from outside the base. Problem is, they all look the same and say the same things–things no one wants to hear right now.

    April 8, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Mena

    Why don't they stop inviting her? She hasn't said yes lately. I smell conspiracy though. It seems as if all these invitations (and denials) are keeping her within our scope. TV, online, newspapers. Someone out there does not want us to forget Palin.

    April 8, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Mike Nichols

    Being a Tennessee resident, I wish Corker would go back to South Carolina and live (he was born there). He is a disgrace to Tennessee and the middle class of America.

    April 8, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. Sniffit

    Perhaps he should just stick a cork in it.

    April 8, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Proud American

    OH yeah I remember this guy, he's the one who came out with the racist ads while running for senator against a black guy. Looks like Republicans want to return to the day's of old. I just love the Idiots.

    April 8, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. boered1

    Keep Looking GOP sooner or later you will find someone to represent you!
    Try #1 The idiot caribou barbie, unfortunately her lies and utter stupidity was too much for even die-hard republicans to accept over the long run (even McCain does not support her now)

    Try #2 The Florida gov.. but wait he had a little sense and cut himself off from the party when he decided not to run

    Try #3 Your token Black party leader, but his hip hop crap and utter inability to define what it really is to be republicann failed miserably and he has been hidden away from the news

    Try #4 Good Ol boy Bobby Jindal except he could not even make a coherant arguement against PRESIDENT Obama's state of the union and came off sounding like a complete idiot

    Try #5 A Tennaseean named Corker who is a "conservative that offers common sense solutions". I am not very optomistic for him since "common sense solutions" to the GOP means "more of the same failed ideas" to the rest of us. But hey I will give him the benefit of the doubt maybe he will stand up there and support the President and his real common sense solutions... but not likely

    April 8, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Roland

    Has anyone seen that silver Elephant in the room ! Bye Bye GOP you can have all of the benefit dinners you want but you can't party the truth away your party has become the out of step with reality. You have now become CRP Christian Redneck Party, have fun kids.

    April 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. Big Al C.

    He can build a Walmart on an Indian Burial grounds without the Federal Government saying a word. Even when court actions were taken. Slick Bob is the biggest embarassment Tennessee has ever seen. I would not vote for him for sewage inspector, he has the integrity of Dick Cheney. He has been nothing but a Bush yes man. Raise your gas prices and bust unions, so your pay will be cut in half after all big business helped him get in office, and they need a break from high labor.

    April 8, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. Dan

    Another day another so-called "GOP rising star".......

    April 8, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. U gotta be kidding

    And repugs are the party of hate!!!! Have a happy Easter!

    April 8, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Doug, New Jersey

    "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."

    Ha ha, another lib lie. Lib is entitled to its hateful opinions but not your own facts. All over America the lib areas have tolls all over their roads and the red areas have little or no tolls at all.

    Drive 95 up the coast, you will pay nothing to drive in the good parts of the nation but once you get to lib-land you will have to fork over at least 3 dollars every 15 miles or so. Also, observe how they treat the other drivers on the roads in the southern red areas, and how it takes a 180 when you get to Northern Virginia. Then ask yourself, which type of person you are? Vote that way in November!

    April 8, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. R Cross

    aren't they all rising stars??

    April 8, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. John

    Ah, a GOP dinner. Its easy to imagine the 3 main subgroups:

    * Fundamentalist kooks insisting everyone hold hands and pray before and after eating.

    * Economic wingnuts boasting about their yachts and chuckling over their millions safely deposited in foreign bank accounts.

    * Anti-government fanatics comparing weapons and bragging about the bunkers in their home fortresses.

    April 8, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. Lee in TN

    Bob Corker is the perfect guy for this. He made millions in backroom real estate deals while being mayor of Chattanooga and employing illegal aliens to work for him. He is the classic example of a shady businessman who believes in a two class America; the wealthy elite and the working class poor.

    April 8, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. mark

    I would rather have him than BO the PANDER.............

    April 8, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. Neva

    What do they eat at the right-to-life banquet?

    April 8, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    I have a question, Are the Republicans going to keep rolling out these "show pieces" to promote their failed and tired talking points until they find the right one?What a train wreck the GOP is turning into! Can you say desperate for relevancy?

    April 8, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. Linda

    What could Porker possibly say to save the dying GOP anymore?

    April 8, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. better days ahead

    no more palin, no more republicans, they have almost ruined our country.

    April 8, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. Liberal and Proud of It.com

    Doug of NJ quoted a piece of my post: "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."

    Then he replied: "Ha ha, another lib lie. Lib is entitled to its hateful opinions but not your own facts. All over America the lib areas have tolls all over their roads and the red areas have little or no tolls at all."

    1. I agree with you on toll roads, Doug. No American should have to pay to travel on public roads. Our state legislatures have sold us out. You are right that it is more prevalent in the crowded northeast. Texas has a lot of toll roads in Dallas-Ft. Worth and central TX. I'm opposed to any toll road any where in the nation.

    2. You missed my point. The point was that the Republican Party did lots of really stupid things while they were in power, and we are paying big time for their idiocy and corruption. The idea of "selling the interstate highway system to Dubai as toll roads" was a sarcastic example of the dumb things that Conservatives do when they get in power. What they do NOT do, as we all know, is reduce the size of government, promote small business, promote family values, encourage family farming, protect American industry, and manage the American economy prudently.

    In short, my comment was meant as sarcasm, not as a Liberal "lie."

    April 8, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. Vietnam COMBAT Vet, OHIO

    One loser speaking to a room full of losers! Too bad Palin didn't except the offer to speak. They could have called it a comedy meeting!

    April 8, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. walleye

    The RepubliKlan party is dead. Let them put a CORK in it.

    April 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. John Sturgis, SD

    How many times over the past 6 months have we heard the GOP claim that the next host speaker is "a rising star within the republican caucus." Every time they've made these claims, their rising star isn't able to remove the foot they stuck in their mouths. At least they're consistent.

    April 8, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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