After announcing on Tuesday that he would not seek reelection in 2018, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper. Tapper asked him if “somebody in the Republican Party, perhaps you, should challenge the president in 2020?” and Flake didn’t say no.
“I won’t go there. That’s a long time away,” was Flake’s reply.
Pressing for a definitive answer, Tapper said, “So, you’re not … you’re not discounting it?”
“Certainly, I didn’t support the president in the last election, and — but it’s early,” Flake said. “That time will take care of itself.”
Not satisfied, Tapper forged on, saying, “Okay. That’s not a denial, I’d like to point out. I’m not trying to get cute, but, I mean, if you didn’t support him last time and [Sen. Bob] Corker is saying he made a mistake by supporting him last time, do you think there is going to be a movement for Republicans to replace him?”
“I can just say I didn’t support him last time. I did not vote for the president,” Flake demurred. “Nothing that he’s done has earned my support since that time or made me more likely to vote for him, you know, in the second run. So, that’s all I’ll say.”
An outspoken Republican critic of President Trump, Flake made the decision about his political career months ago when he published a book that offered a scathing indictment of both President Donald Trump and a GOP that had accepted him.
Flake told CNN that Republicans like himself, who are willing to criticize the president, have a “narrow path” to an election. “I would have to run a campaign that I couldn’t be proud of,” he said, regarding his reason for not seeking re-election. “And I chose not to do that.”
Flake, who said he believes the president is setting a bad example for children, called Trump out for tweeting at foreign leaders and referring to Democrats as “losers or clowns.”
“These are kinds of things that we shouldn’t be okay with,” he said. “We keep waiting for a pivot that simply isn’t happening.”
On Tuesday, GOP Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee also criticized Trump, doubling down on his comments that the White House is an “adult day care center.” The president later tweeted that Corker “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.”
When asked if he was forming a ticket with Flake in the 2020 primary, Corker reportedly said yes, in “the dogcatcher field … I do like dogs.”
Asked if he was forming a 2020 ticket with Flake, Corker says Yes, in “the dogcatcher field … I do like dogs”
— Tom LoBianco (@tomlobianco) October 24, 2017