Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., isn’t happy with his fellow Republicans in the Senate who have not rallied around his opposition to President Donald Trump on tariffs, saying the GOP is effectively acting like a “cult” out of fear of Trump.
But Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., took exception to the characterization Wednesday during an appearance on MSNBC, saying the GOP is “a party built on principles.” He’d offer a more compelling reason later on why Corker is so corked.
“The GOP is not a cult,” Gaetz told host Katy Tur. “We’re a party built on principles that right now are increasing economic opportunity for millions of Americans.”
Later in the interview, Gaetz shared a theory on why Corker is so discontent.
“I think Sen. Corker is a little upset that he got passed over for secretary of state,” the Florida lawmaker said.
Corker, who announced his retirement last year, has been very critical of Trump and the president took to Twitter after the announcement to say Corker decided to retire because he would not endorse him.
…Corker dropped out of the race in Tennesse when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2017
But the senator from Tennessee directed his criticism at the Republican Party while speaking to reporters Wednesday — Corker quickly became the anti-Trump media’s favorite Republican for the day.
“We’re in a strange place,” Corker said. “It’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it? “It’s not a good place for any party to have a cult-like situation as it relates to a President that happens to be purportedly of the same party.”
Now that he’s not concerned with reelection, Corker complained about leadership “not wishing to poke the bear […] because it’s all about the next election.”
The remarks came after his bill to rein in Trump on tariffs failed to make it to a vote.