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 FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger 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 TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration 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 McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech 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 SasseOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears MORE (Neb.).