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 FlakePollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge Trump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Flake opens up about threats against him and his family 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 TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 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 McCainWhy did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for two years? If you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era 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 SasseAfrica's women can change a continent: Will Ivanka give them her full support? Senate needs to stand up to Trump's Nixonian view of the Fed GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback MORE (Neb.).