- Associated Press - Friday, September 15, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican Bob Corker, who has yet to say whether he will seek a third term representing Tennessee in the U.S. Senate next year, met with President Donald Trump on Friday for the first time since their public spat.

The senator who chairs the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee first met with Trump in a one-on-one setting before being joined by other White House staff, said Corker spokeswoman Micah Johnson.

“The conversations were wide ranging and extremely constructive,” she said.

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Corker had heavily criticized the president last month for his response to a violent white nationalist rally in Virginia, questioning whether Trump had shown the “stability” and “competence” to succeed in office.

Trump on Twitter took aim at what he called Corker’s “strange statement,” and suggested that Tennesseans are “not happy” with the senator as he considers whether to run in 2018.

Potential challengers for the Republican nomination in next year’s Senate race have been keen to highlight the discord between Corker and the president, who remains highly popular in Tennessee.

Corker has downplayed any notion of a rift between himself and Trump on, telling reporters in Washington on Thursday that “for people to try to act as if there is daylight between us as a result is just not true.”

Corker, 65, has baffled many political observers in Tennessee by refusing to divulge whether he will run again. While the senator pledged before his election in 2006 to only serve two terms in the Senate, he was widely expected to run again because of his seniority on the foreign relations and banking committees.

The senator said this week that he will announce his decision about his political future “very soon.”

The primary campaign has already drawn one other candidate: Andy Ogles, the former head of the Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch’s network.

Others considering entering the fray include state Sen. Mark Green, who dropped out of the Tennessee governor’s race after withdrawing as Trump’s nominee for Army secretary, and former state Rep. Joe Carr.

Carr said on Twitter on Friday that he’s not yet ready to announce his plans, but that he is looking forward to continuing his fight what he called the “feckless” GOP establishment in Tennessee.

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