PHOENIX — Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake wishes conservatives would have been — and should be — more vocal in calling out fake news and when inappropriate remarks are made by president Donald Trump.
Joining host Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Flake said he believes the fight to maintain proper political decorum should be a louder one.
“I wish that we as a party would have stood up, for example, when the birtherism thing was going along,” he said of Trump’s claim that then-President Barack Obama was not a United States citizen. “A lot of people did stand up but not enough. That was particularly ugly.
“During rallies (as Trump ran against Hillary Clinton), when the chants ‘Lock her up’ — we shouldn’t be the party for jailing your political opponents. Anybody at those rallies ought to stand up and say, ‘That’s inappropriate, we shouldn’t be doing that.’ I wish as a party and as elected officials would do more of that.”
Flake has agreed with the president on a number of items to begin his term. When it comes to taxes, regulatory policy and personnel hires like Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, Flake has voted with Trump.
But Flake expects he will vote against the president on issues such as trade. He’s also disagreed with the past immigration bans, which most recently included a proposal to cut legal immigration.
Many of the complaints Flake has called out through the press and on social media has do with Trump’s actions that the senator views as inappropriate behavior.
“Referring to our colleagues across the aisle as as ‘losers’ or ‘clowns’ is just not the direction to go if we’re going to solve problems in a conservative way,” Flake said.
Flake believes that while Trump’s conservatism might be a short-lived win for the party, the Republican party could take the hit for any mistakes and potentially lose majorities in the house or senate.
“I’m not denying that populism isn’t popular. That’s why it’s called populism,” he said, adding that more nuance must be discussed as Republican policy is written.
“It’s easy to point toward a shuttered factory and say, ‘hey, if we had just negotiated better trade deals, those jobs would be there,’ when really it’s automation and productivity gains. It’s much more complex. And my concern is, is that populism is a sugar-high and once you come off it, it’s particularly troublesome for the party.”