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 FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report MORE (Ariz.) on Friday said he wouldn't rule out making a primary challenge to President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations 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 SasseBen SasseTrump goes after Cassidy after senator says he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Invoking 'Big Tech' as an accusation can endanger American security Biden slips further back to failed China policies 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 McCainOur military shouldn't be held hostage to 'water politics' Meghan McCain blames 'toxic' hostility for 'The View' exit Beware the tea party of the left 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 CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  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."