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 FlakeVulnerable senators hold the key to Trump's fate Trump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment 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 TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' 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 McCainPublisher announces McSally book planned for May release Democrats lead Trump by wide margins in Minnesota Here's what to watch this week on impeachment 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 Sasse NBA commissioner says China asked league to fire Rocket's GM Lawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip Hong Kong protesters trample, burn LeBron James jerseys in wake of comments MORE (Neb.).