Flake: ‘I don’t think’ I will be 2020 challenger to Trump

Flake: ‘I don’t think’ I will be 2020 challenger to Trump
© Greg Nash

Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that he doesn't think he will run for president in 2020, but added that he believes somebody from the GOP needs to challenge President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report MORE.

Flake, a frequent Trump critic, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that somebody needs to run "to remind Republicans what it means to be conservative, what being a conservative really means and what it means to be decent."

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"I think the future of the party is with people with an optimistic vision moving ahead. I don’t think that will be me. I think there are better candidates out there. But somebody needs to run," he added.

Flake said he would "love to see" Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseCNN to partner with The Des Moines Register on polling ahead of 2020 Iowa caucuses Sasse calls on DOJ to investigate its handling of wealthy sex offender's plea deal Beto O'Rourke seen as a top contender in 2020: poll MORE (R-Neb.) be that candidate. He also mentioned Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) as a potential primary candidate.

"I think there will be somebody. There needs to be somebody," he said.

Flake previously has left open the door for running for the presidency himself in 2020, telling reporters earlier this month that he hadn't "ruled it out" and hadn't "ruled it in."

"If we're going to be a relevant party in the future then we've got to be a decent party," he said at the time. "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."
 
Flake also said Sunday that he believes Arizona is "certainly" winnable for a Democrat in 2020.

“It certainly is," he said. "I think we’ll see the same trends as we’ve seen elsewhere. … You cannot run as someone who is just tied at the hip with the president and win statewide. Voters in Arizona are rejecting that.”

Flake's comments come after incoming Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) pulled off a midterm victory over Republican Senate candidate Rep. Martha McSally.