This story is developing.
NASHVILLE - Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, said to be on a short list of potential candidates that Donald Trump is considering as a running mate, met with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee at Trump Tower in New York earlier today and is accompanying Trump to a North Carolina campaign rally this evening.
It was unclear whether Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, will have a speaking role at the event.
The outspoken Corker, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has sometimes praised Trump on foreign policy issues, including the candidate's comments about the recent Brexit vote. But he has also has been critical at times of controversial statements made by Trump.
Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, a Republican and former U.S. ambassador to Poland, said in an email that he believes Trump picking Corker as his veep would "strengthen the ticket and be a popular decision."
"Bob's record as a Mayor, Commissioner of Finance in state government and US Senator is exceptional," said Ashe, who served as Knoxville's mayor during the time Corker headed Chattanooga government. He would be an outstanding Vice President."
But Corker's willingness to appear with Trump onstage in Raleigh drew fire from Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini who said the Chattanoogan's "political ambition trumps his integrity. "
Mancini said Trump declared a federal judge was unfit to preside over a case involving Trump University because of his national origin and also charged the presumed GOP nominee refused to condemn white supremacists campaigning on his behalf and condoned the "beating of a Black Lives Matter protester."
Mancini contrasted that with Corker's own actions as a U.S. Senate candidate in 2006 battling Democrat Harold Ford Jr., who is black. Mancini recalled Corker "willing to stand up to the racists in his own party by disavowing a campaign ad condemned nationally for racebaiting."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee ad was known as the "Call Me" ad. The spot stemmed from news accounts that Ford, who was single at the time, had attended a Playboy party at a Super Bowl.
It featured a young with blonde hair and bare shoulders who looked into the camera and who declared she met Mr. Ford at a "Playboy party." The ad closes with the woman looking into the camera and saying, with a wink, "Harold, call me."
Corker, who had no control over the ad, called on the NRSC to take the ad down, which it eventually was.
"Sen. Corker used to be a public servant with character but his political ambitions are clouding his judgement," Mancini said. "Today, Sen. Corker sold out his principles and is standing on a stage with Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee who has repeatedly made racist remarks, engaged in discriminatory business practices, encouraged violence against Black Lives Matter protestors at his rallies, and refused to renounce David Duke's support for his campaign. 10 years later, for the Bob Corker of 2016, his political ambition trumps his integrity."
Stay with the Times Free Press for more on this developing story.