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Flake: Trump has 'unfortunately' redefined Republican Party

Flake: Trump has 'unfortunately' redefined Republican Party
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' MORE (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE has “unfortunately” redefined the Republican Party, and reiterated his calls for the president to face a primary challenge in 2020. 

Flake said on ABC’s “This Week” that Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordLobbying world 5 lawyers leave Trump impeachment team ahead of trial: reports South Carolina GOP votes to censure Rep. Rice over impeachment vote MORE’s (R-S.C.) primary defeat last week served as a stark indication of where the party stands. 

“You can’t, as a Republican these days, stand in opposition to some of the president’s policies, or not condone his behavior and expect to win a Republican primary,” Flake said.

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“Now I don’t think that will last, but that is a reality right now,” he added.

Sanford, who was often critical of Trump's rhetoric but generally supported his policies, lost his primary last week to state Rep. Katie Arrington, who aligned herself closely with the president.

Trump tweeted hours before the polls closed, urging voters to reject Sanford. He later mocked the South Carolina lawmaker during a meeting with other GOP representatives. 

Flake, who is retiring when his term ends in January, has also been among the most vocal critics of the president. On Sunday, he re-emphasized his suggestion that another Republican should challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election. 

Flake has not indicated whether he will run, but said a GOP candidate should do so “just to remind Republicans what it means to be conservative or Republican.”