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Story highlights

Corker said Trump is "challenging the foreign policy establishment that has been here for so long"

He also offered a thinly veiled critique of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's efforts to undermine Trump

New York CNN —  

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker on Thursday stopped short of endorsing Donald Trump, but in another sign top Republican elected officials could be coming around to the party’s front-runner, he praised Trump’s evolution as a politician.

Calling Trump’s foreign policy address the day before a “really good transition in the campaign,” Corker in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” commended Trump for “challenging the foreign policy establishment that has been here for so long.”

Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump reached out to him earlier in the day and the two enjoyed a “good conversation” about foreign policy and the campaign. On Wednesday, Corker praised the billionaire businessman’s speech, describing it as “very thoughtful.”

He also offered a thinly veiled critique of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s efforts to undermine Trump’s lead in the Republican primary delegate race.

“I have been repulsed by those who try to direct the electoral process in a certain direction and say, ‘Well, no matter what people do, we’re going to cause this to happen at the convention,’” Corker told Burnett. “To me, that’s inappropriate.”

Cruz, who has been mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination outright, has made an active play to pile up the support of delegates in the event of a contested convention.

Trump won Tennessee’s March 1 primary by double digits. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Volunteer State Republican who sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, endorsed Trump in February.