NASHVILLE — For a man who might want to be president, Bob Corker has been notably absent from the parade of Republican hopefuls that has marched into Iowa this month.
Corker, Tennessee's junior senator and Chattanooga's former mayor, told Lawrenceburg Chamber of Commerce members in a speech Wednesday that he hasn't ruled out a run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
That said, while the state that holds the nation's earliest presidential primary has hosted nearly a dozen Republican governors and senators since Aug. 1 -- Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and the Texas duo, Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz -- Corker hasn't been among them.
He told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has not planned any trips to early primary states and has not been in talks with major donors. He said any decision would wait until next year and that his wife, Elizabeth, may be wary of the intense media attention and scrutiny a presidential candidate takes on.
It was the same thing he told the Times Free Press in May.
Two years into his second term, Corker is in line to become the Senate's next chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the event of a GOP takeover of the chamber. And it's known he may be interested in being Tennessee governor someday.
"We'll just see what happens down the road," the senator said in that interview about the trend of his presidential aspirations. "It's a total change for your family. It's a total change in your life."
But Wednesday, he sounded like he was thinking about it.
"There are times when I do wish I could have the kind of impact and create the kind of change and have the kind of vision for our country that I think so many people here in Tennessee would like to see happen," Corker told the AP.
"I will say that the order of magnitude of the impact one can have in Washington is vastly different for a senator, versus being the president," he said. "It's not even in the same spectrum."
A little later, though, he complained that jetlag from a recent trip to Southeast Asia prompted his "stream of consciousness" answer to the question about a presidential bid, the AP reported.
And even if there's a will, there might not be a way.
In May, Norman Ornstein of the influential American Enterprise Institute, which describes itself as a free enterprise think tank, said the balance of power inside the Republican Party isn't trending Corker's way.
He said Senate Republicans are almost uniformly conservative, but are generally divided between party loyalists, "purist ideologues" and "problem solvers."
Corker is mostly in the third group, he said, but GOP's "center of gravity" these days pulls more toward ideologues like Cruz.
"In an earlier era Corker would have been on every short list as a presidential or vice presidential possibility," Ornstein said. "In this era it's less likely because of where his party is."
Staff writer Andy Sher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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