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Sen. Jeff Flake: Trump’s attacks on press at risk of becoming ‘normalized’

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., listens to a question from a reporter before a Senate procedural vote to reopen the government, Monday Jan. 22, 2018, on day three of the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

PHOENIX — President Donald Trump has not backed down from his attacks on the free press and some Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), have argued that they are at risk of becoming “normalized.”

Trump appeared at a rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on Saturday in an effort to help Republicans win a congressional district that the president won by 20 points in 2016 and endorse candidate Rick Saccone in the special election on Tuesday.

The rally was sprinkled with mentions of Saccone and the election in general, but for the most part, according to The New York Times, was “in-his-element Trump, vintage 2016: Rambling and fiery, boastful and jocular — the part of being president that he loves perhaps the most.”

Trump fantasized about running against television personality and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey in the 2020 presidential election, floated the idea of reaching peace with North Korea and promoted his new tariffs.

But the president kept coming back to fan favorites: Bragging about his Electoral College victory and hurling insults at various reporters and politicians, including “sleepy eyes” Chuck Todd and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who Trump referred to as “Pocahontas.”

During an interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press” — which is hosted by Todd — on Sunday, Flake said the president’s comments are at risk of becoming “normalized and we take as normal what is abnormal.

“We should never normalize this kind of behavior, particularly from the president of the United States,” Flake said. “So I think it does real damage long term to the political culture. It really does.”

Flake, who has taken to the Senate floor as recently as January to draw attention to the danger that Trump’s comments could cause, said he believes it is the Republican Party’s job to take a stand.

“I don’t blame my colleagues for just saying, ‘Hey, you know, I’m just not going to comment anymore.’ But I think it’s our responsibility at least at some point when he goes so far to stand up and say,’This is not normal. We should not normalize this behavior.'”

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