On Sunday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “KasieDC,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who has already announced he would not seek re-election to the Senate in 2018, said he would not rule out challenging President Trump for the 2020 GOP nomination.
Flake has been a constant vocal critic of Trump, despite his voting record, in which he has almost uniformly supported Trump’s policies. He has criticized Trump for supporting the candidacy of Judge Roy Moore for the Senate in Alabama, going so far as to write a check for Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, and agreeing that supporting Moore, as Trump and the Republican National Committee had done, would leave a “stain” on the party. He has criticized Trump’s prior expressed opinion to get out of NAFTA.
Asked last December if he had presidential ambitions of his own by ABC News, Flake replied, “That’s not in my plans. But I do wonder; I do worry that in the future we’ll be faced with President Trump running for reelection on one side, drilling down hard on a diminishing base.” He added that Trump was “inviting" an independent challenger in 2020, adding, “He’s probably inviting a Republican challenge as well.”
On Sunday, Hunt asked Flake, “You say you should oppose him when you think he’s wrong. Do you think there’s a moral obligation or duty for someone else in your party to challenge him for the nomination in 2020?”
Flake responded, “I don’t want to put it that way, but I think he will have a challenge.”
Hunt interrupted, “Is it going to come from you?”
He’ll certainly have a challenge from somebody as an independent. But I think he’ll likely have a challenge in the Republican Party as well. … I am not the only one — the only Republican who is saying, “You know, I’m not sure this is my party. We used to stand for limited government and free trade, free enterprise and not this kind of nationalist, protectionist kind of party.”
Later in the interview, Hunt persisted, “Would you completely rule out challenging the president for the nomination in 2020?”
Flake, pinned down, “No, I won’t rule it out. It’s not in my plans. But I’m not ruling it out. I don’t think anybody should.”