Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) repeatedly refused to say whether Donald Trump was fit to be president if he did not "pivot" toward the general election during a tense appearance on Morning Joe Tuesday.
Pressed over and over on the question by co-host Mika Brzezinski, Corker would not directly answer as to whether he could be president if he failed to do that.
Corker, who has met with the presumptive Republican nominee and praised him for "challenging the foreign policy establishment," was among the numerous Republican voices who criticized Trump for his racially charged remarks about the federal judge overseeing the Trump University fraud case. Trump said the judge, who is from Indiana, was being unfair because he has Mexican heritage and was biased against Trump for his plan to build a southern border wall.
Corker said Trump had a chance to pivot away from the Republican primary and toward the general election, while saying that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would in no way change the trajectory of the nation.
"He has an opportunity to realize there's been some mistakes made, and he has an opportunity to overcome that," Corker said. "We're at a hair on fire moment. I'm saying, look. It's up to him now to pivot. I want to encourage that."
Host Joe Scarborough said Trump had opportunities for weeks to move away from his more belligerent tone during the Republican primary, which he wrapped up last month, and he had failed.
"If he does not pivot, because you have talked about your hope that he will, if he does not pivot from this, is he fit to be president?" Brzezinski asked.
"It is up to him to take advantage of the incredible opportunity that anyone who cares about our nation would relish having to pivot and become the general election candidate … By the way, there are armies of people that can help with treasury functions, with foreign policy, with commerce, that would be willing to come in and help a candidate, let's face it, that hasn't fully formed views on numbers of topics," Corker said.
Corker noted that he and others could "encourage" Trump to go in a better direction, but Scarborough said the candidate didn't seem like the kind of person who could be.
"If he doesn't pivot, is he fit to be president?" Brzezinski asked again, with an edge in her voice.
Again, Corker didn't say, saying again he would continue to encourage Trump to take advantage of the opportunity to change the country's trajectory, which he said Clinton wouldn't do.
"Yes, I'm urging him through this television show to reassess, to realize where he is," Corker said.
Scarborough said he was glad Corker was among the voices on the Republican side doing so, but Brzezinski repeated her question for a third time, throwing her hands up in frustration.
"Mika, here's what I think semi-prudent people do is they don't answer questions of conjecture," Corker said. "Here's what people, hopefully, say is, look, if we get to a point where it's seen that the pivot is not capable, that there's really no way that this is going to evolve, ask me the question at that time. Until that time, look, mistakes have been made. Everybody's hair is on fire. I got it."
Panelist Mark Halperin wanted to know what that deadline exactly was. Corker said Trump had a "few weeks" to take advantage of the opportunity he'd been talking about earlier.