On Sunday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) appeared on ABC’s "This Week." During the segment, host Jonathan Carl asked the Senator if he was planning an independent presidential run after he leaves the Senate in January of 2019.
Their back-and-forth was illuminating:
FLAKE: That's not in my plans, but I do wonder, I do worry that in the future we'll be faced with a President Trump running for re-election on one side, drilling down hard on a diminishing base, and on the other side, you might have, you know, someone like Bernie Sanders [or] Elizabeth Warren on the far left [of] the Democratic Party. That leaves a huge swath of voters in the middle that [are] maybe looking for something else.
KARL: But you are open to running for president in 2020?
FLAKE: I don't rule anything out, but it's not in my plans.
KARL: It's coming up, by the way.
FLAKE: It is.
KARL: Would you be more likely to run for the Republican nomination against the president or as an independent candidate?
FLAKE: Like I said, I haven't thought that deeply about it. But I do believe if the president is running for re-election, if he continues on the path that he's on, that that's gonna leave a huge swath of voters looking for something else.
KARL: You're saying that if he is the Republican nominee again, we're likely to see an independent candidate, whether or not it’s you?
FLAKE: He's inviting that. He's probably inviting a Republican challenge as well. But certainly an independent challenge, yes.
KARL: What would it take for you to leave the Republican Party? You've already been as harshly critical of your Party's president as you really can be.
FLAKE: I can say the fact that Roy Moore lost his election is a good sign that maybe the Republican Party, maybe we can turn back. But if we continue to go down that path, just to drill down on the base, then I think you'll have a lot of people realize there's no future for them in this party.
Here’s the video (pertinent portion begins at the 7:52 mark):