Flake: Trump has 'unfortunately' redefined Republican Party

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

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest 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 SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordTrump challenger Bill Weld: 'My goal is to win' The Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' 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.”