Jeff Flake says he will not run for president, signs on as CBS contributor

Jeff Flake says he will not run for president, signs on as CBS contributor
© Stefani Reynolds

Former Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane Flake'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? The Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says he will not vote for Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) announced Tuesday morning that he would not run for the White House in 2020.

“I have always said that I do hope that there is a Republican who challenges the president in the primary. I still hope that somebody does, but that somebody won't be me. I will not be a candidate,” Flake said on “CBS This Morning.” 

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Flake, a frequent critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE, had been floated as a possible 2020 contender to challenge the president for the Republican Party nomination.

“It’s a difficult path anyway. The [Republican National Committee] and the president’s campaign are now melded, they’re trying to do everything they can to squelch any opposition," Flake said.

"I still hope that some — and some are still talking about it — do run, I think that that’s healthy and I’m not a fan of this president. But that won’t be me,” he added. 

Flake, in November, hadn't yet ruled out a run, emphasizing that someone in the party needs to run against Trump.

"I've not ruled it out. I've not ruled it in. Just, somebody needs to run," Flake told reporters at the time.

Flake, who supported many of the Trump administration’s policies during his tenure in the Senate, has had a contentious relationship with the president since the 2016 campaign, when Flake confronted the then-candidate for his criticisms of Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHow Obama just endorsed Trump Former Texas Rep. Sam Johnson dies at 89 Trump's needless nastiness and cruelty will catch up with him MORE (R-Ariz.).

Flake, during his interview Tuesday, added that he is joining CBS News as a contributor.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), a frequent critic of Trump’s and considered by many to be a moderate, has been floated as a possible 2020 challenger to Trump. Kasich, who has already run for president twice, said in November that he was “very seriously” considering a White House bid.

Asked in November who else within the party should be in the "conversation" about a primary challenge to the president, Flake pointed to Kasich and Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseHillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting Lawmakers ask for briefings on Chinese targeting of coronavirus research On The Money: GOP senators heed Fed chair's call for more relief | Rollout of new anti-redlining laws spark confusion in banking industry | Nearly half of American households have lost employment income during pandemic MORE (Neb.).