Tennessee senator Bob Corker issued a sharp critique of Donald Trump Thursday, adding to a chorus of Republican criticism around the president’s handling of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
“He … recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation,” Corker told reporters in Chattanooga. “He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great, and what it is today.”
Corker, once a candidate to be Trump’s secretary of state and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that “there need to be some radical changes” at the White House.
“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to he successful,” he said. “Without the things that I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”
He urged the president to do some self-reflection.
“Our president needs to take stock of the role that he plays in our nation, and move beyond himself, move way beyond himself, and move to a place where daily he’s waking up, thinking about what is best for our nation.”
Asked specifically about the president’s handling of the Charlottesville violence, Corker expressed disapproval.
“I don’t think that the president has appropriately spoken to the nation on this issue,” he said. “Sometimes he gets in a situation where he doubles down to try to make a wrong a right. I think he’s done that in this case.”
Republicans have been denouncing the president’s handling of a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The first wave of criticism came on Saturday, when Trump did not pointedly condemn the KKK and neo-Nazis behind the Virginia rally. The second occurred Tuesday, after Trump blamed “both sides” for violence at the rally and said there were some “very fine people on both sides.”
The president fought back against lawmakers’ criticism Thursday. In a series of tweets, he described South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham as “publicity seeking” and Arizona senator Jeff Flake as “toxic.”
Corker defended Flake Thursday.
“Senator Flake is one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met,” he said. “The White House would be well served to embrace the character, the substance, of someone like Senator Flake.”
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard