TAMPA, Fla. — The presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is the most important race the country has seen since the 1980 matchup between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said Monday.
The Chattanooga Republican said he attended an event with Romney a couple of months ago in Park City, Utah, where Romney gave a speech that sounded "incredibly Reaganesque."
"I left there about as excited as I could possibly have been at that moment," Corker told Tennessee delegates to the Republican National Convention. "I think when people get to see who he is, it's going to make a tremendous difference in this race."
Corker, one of the guest speakers at a breakfast meeting for the state's delegates, framed the race between Obama and Romney as a choice between "individualism and really allowing people real opportunity" versus "collectivism and trying to have equal outcomes."
"People are beginning to see that," he said.
Corker offered high praise for Romney's vice-presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the influential chairman of the House Budget Committee. Corker said he has spent a lot of time with Ryan on budget issues and has gotten to know him really well.
Ryan's addition to the GOP ticket "has caused this race to be a race about serious issues," Corker said. "Up until that point, it really was about things that just do not matter. And now we're going to have a race about something that really matters."
Corker said fiscal matters are the most pressing issues facing the country, and given Romney's and Ryan's background in finance, "we couldn't have two people more qualified to deal with that."
"I personally admire and respect our team, and I think they gave the ability to be the greatest presidential and vice presidential team we've had in modern history," Corker said. "I really believe that."