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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 FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with 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 TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat 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 McCainOvernight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West Five takeaways from the Biden-Putin summit 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 SasseBen SasseGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Pence: Trump and I may never 'see eye to eye' on events of Jan. 6 White House: Biden will not appoint presidential Jan. 6 commission MORE (Neb.).