Flake not ruling out 2020 run against Trump

Flake not ruling out 2020 run against Trump
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Retiring GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (Ariz.) on Friday said he wouldn't rule out making a primary challenge to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'Haven't thought about' pardons for Mueller target Pence: Rocket attack 'proves that Hamas is not a partner for peace' Conservation remains a core conservative principle MORE in 2020, emphasizing that someone in the party needs to run against him.

"I've not ruled it out. I've not ruled it in. Just, somebody needs to run," Flake told reporters on Friday.
 
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Asked who else within the party should be in the "conversation" about a primary challenge to the president, Flake pointed to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseTrump approves Nebraska disaster declaration Nebraska lawmakers urge Trump to approve disaster funding Republicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump MORE (Neb.), a sometimes Trump critic within the GOP caucus who Flake described as a "strong candidate" if he decided to run.
 
"But I hope somebody does just remind people what it means to be conservative and what it means to be decent, we've got to bring that back," Flake said. "If we're going to be a relevant party in the future then we've got to be a decent party."
 
"This politics of grievance and anger and resentment, you know, you can whip up the base for a cycle or two but it wears thin," he added. "Anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy."
 
Flake is one of a handful of Republican officials who have earned speculation as a potential 2020 challenger to Trump. He's previously called for a member of the party to challenge the president and hasn't shutdown questions about a 2020 bid of his own.
 
While Republicans picked up seats in the Senate during Tuesday's midterm election, they also faced a revolt from female, suburban voters who they need if they want to regain a majority in the House and likely to hold onto the White House in 2020.
 
When asked if the party could flip back congressional seats without making changes, Flake responded: "No, we cant. I'm one who still holds to that autopsy that we did back in '12. ...You can't fight demographics and you've got to appeal to a broader electorate."
 
Whether Trump can win reelection, Flake said, depends on if Republicans primary the president, as well as who Democrats nominate — a progressive or an individual more to the center of the party. 
 
Flake and Trump have had a contentious relationship dating back to the 2016 campaign, when Flake confronted the then-candidate for his criticisms of Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGraham: McCain 'acted appropriately' by handing Steele dossier to FBI What should Democrats do next, after Mueller's report? Tom Daschle: McCain was a model to be emulated, not criticized MORE (R-Ariz.).

On Friday, the president lashed out at Flake characterizing him as an "unelectable in Arizona for the 'crime' of doing a terrible job! A weak and ineffective guy!" Flake acknowledged that the president had "in a sense" been able to force him out of office.

"In a sense he did. In that, the price to win a Republican primary was to stand on a stage with the president over and over while he insults minorities and ridicules both Republicans and Democrats and Americans and, you know, goes along with and leads lock her up chants. I couldn't do that. I couldn't do that," Flake said.

 
With Flake and GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump keeps tight grip on GOP Brexit and exit: A transatlantic comparison Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (R-Tenn.) leaving Congress, as well as the death of McCain, some of Trump's most vocal critics are leaving the Senate. The shifts have left lawmakers to wonder who will fill the void within the Senate Republican caucus.
 
Asked if he could make a run in 2020 for the remaining two years of McCain's Senate seat, Flake said with a laugh that "that's not in the cards."
 
"I don't see that happening," Flake said, "but I'm not swearing off politics."