Flake: 'As conservatives, our first obligation is to be honest'

Flake: 'As conservatives, our first obligation is to be honest'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Ariz.) said in an interview released early Monday that the first obligation of conservatives is to "be honest."

Flake told NPR he is "very troubled" with the Republican Party.

"It seems that we've been compromised, but this time by different forces — those of populism and protectionism, isolationism, xenophobia and I'm concerned about how we remain a governing party with those principles," he said.

He also said he thinks the party has become "coarser."

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"Being a conservative isn't just adopting conservative policies," he said. "I think it matters in terms of demeanor and comportment."

Flake said he recognizes the frustrations people have, adding that President Trump "kind of spoke to that."

"But I think as conservatives, our first obligation is to be honest with people," he said.

"It's always easier for a politician to point to a shuttered factory and say 'That's because of free trade. That's because Mexico took those jobs, or China did,'" he continued.

"But what is not recognized is that it's largely been productivity gains and automation. We manufacture twice as much as we did in the 1980s with one third fewer workers and those productivity gains will continue."

During an interview Sunday, Flake said Republican leaders who do not call out Trump are complicit.

He said elected officials need to hold each other responsible, whether it's in the White House or in the Congress.