PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe several tiffs with President Donald Trump will affect the party’s support of his re-election campaign.
“If I were to worry about that, then I wouldn’t be a good senator,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos.
Flake said he has disagreed with several presidents in the past, including George W. Bush, who appeared at a fundraiser for the senator after leaving office.
Flake said any president, including Trump, should expect senators to disagree with them on certain topics.
“No senator is a rubber stamp for a president,” he said.
The senator noted that he has agreed with Trump on some topics, such as the president’s cabinet picks and the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, but disagreed on others, such as trade.
“I will oppose this president when I believe he’s wrong and I’ll support him when I believe he’s right,” Flake said.
Whether the conflicts would play a role in possible GOP opposition to Flake or not has yet to be seen. A data analysis website said last month that Flake could have a tough fight ahead of him in next year’s primary and general elections.
That was coupled with a report earlier this year that several Republican high-ups, including Trump adviser Steve Bannon, were forming a group to target congressmen who oppose the president.
Flake also minced no words about the party in a piece published Monday on Politico. In it, the senator said the Republican Party was in denial about the Trump presidency and the effect it has had on the nation.
“I’ve been sympathetic to this impulse to denial, as one doesn’t ever want to believe that the government of the United States has been made dysfunctional at the highest levels, especially by the actions of one’s own party,” Flake wrote.
He told Mac & Gaydos that some of the actions of the Trump presidency would be met by an uproar from the GOP had the Democrats maintained control of the executive branch. He said allowing some antics to slip by because of party allegiance borders on hypocrisy.
“I certainly think that, had some of the same behavior been exhibited by our previous president, we would have been up in arms,” he said. “I think we need to call it out.”
Flake said that hypocrisy was a symptom of a Republican Party that has lost its way, something that he covered in his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.”
“This crisis that we’re facing as conservatives I think is not what some people say: ‘Well, you’re just talking about this administration or the last couple of months,'” he said. “No, this was a long time in building. I think we as Republicans have abandoned some of the principles that have animated the party for generations.”
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