Jeff Flake: GOP ‘in for a rough ride in 2020 if we don’t make some changes’

Outgoing Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday said that the GOP is "in for a rough ride" in the 2020 elections if the party doesn't make changes before then.

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Flake, appearing on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, added that Republicans will soon need to decide if "they want to be tethered" politically to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE.

"And that's going to be what's really going to be interesting in the coming months, because if you look at the midterms, the Senate was very difficult for Republicans to lose, but losing 40 seats in the House and looking at where we are in terms of the suburbs, in terms of women and minorities, we're in for a rough ride in 2020, if we don't make some changes," he said. 

 

Republicans gained two Senate seats in the midterm elections but Democrats easily regained control of the House. 

During the interview with Cooper, Flake, who is a frequent critic of President Trump, also called the GOP "the president's party."

"This is very much the president's party, when you look at the base and look at those who vote in Republican primaries I think that is clear," he said.

"That won't always be the case, but it certainly is now," Flake continued. "And so somebody who wants to run for reelection two years from now has to decide, you know, where they are."

Flake reiterated in the interview that he hopes a Republican brings a primary challenge against Trump in 2020, though he didn't say whether he would be the one to do that.

The retiring senator also praised Sen.-elect Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyProgressive Democrats ramp up attacks on private equity Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne Ocasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field MORE (R-Utah) for writing an op-ed in The Washington Post this week that was critical of Trump's character. Romney wrote in the op-ed that Trump has not "risen to the mantle" of the presidency.

"I thought it was a great op-ed that was written," Flake said. "I think it said things that need to continually be said. And so I applaud Mitt Romney for saying that."