Local news in Chattanooga reports:
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker raised some eyebrows at a luncheon at the Chattanoogan hotel Tuesday with remarks about President Bush.
Speaking to a crowd of about 500 supporters, led by Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, Corker spoke about a range of issues, including energy, healthcare, and his experiences during his first year as a Senator.
But his remarks about his experiences with the White House during meetings on the war in Iraq left some in the crowd befuddled.
"I was in the White House a number of times to talk about the issue, and I may rankle some in the room saying this, but I was very underwhelmed with what discussions took place at the White House," Corker said.
A few minutes later during a question and answer session a man in the audience asked him to clarify his statement.
"I was concerned about your statement that you were underwhelmed with what was going on in the White House. Did you mean with him or with his staff?"
In response, Corker said, "Let me say this. George Bush is a very compassionate person. He's a very good person. And a lot of people don't see that in him, and there's many people in this room who might disagree with that.... I just felt a little bit underwhelmed by our discussions, the complexity of them, the depth of them. And yet in spite of that, I do believe that the most recent course of action we've pursued is a good one. I feel like what we've lack in our country is a coherent effort that really links together the Treasury Department, all the various departments of our government in a way that really focuses not just on the hard military side of things, but also the soft effort that it takes to build good will among people. I really think much of that has righted itself, I'm just telling you that at that moment in time I felt very underwhelmed, and I'm just being honest. I've said that to them, and to him, and to others. I kind of in a way wish I hadn't said it today." The last comment was greeted with laughter in the crowd.
Corker is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He told the audience that before the end of the year he plans to travel to Pakistan, Afghanistan and India to meet with leaders of those countries.