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Sen. Jeff Flake begins backing away from 2020 presidential run

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – After months of speculation whether outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona would run for president in 2020, he said Sunday he didn’t think he would be the candidate to challenge President Donald Trump.

“I think that the future of the party is with people with an optimistic vision moving ahead. I don’t think that will be me,” Flake said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Flake added, “I think there are better candidates out there (than him) … but somebody needs to run.”

Less than two weeks ago, the 55-year-old politician said he hadn’t ruled out his candidacy.

Arizona’s senior senator had been critical of Trump and the GOP before he announced last year that he would not run for re-election. Flake cited a divisive political climate created by Trump for not returning to the job he won in 2013.

“I’ve said all along that somebody needs to run on the Republican side, if nothing else to remind Republicans… what being a conservative really means and what it means to be decent as well,” he said.

Flake also said he thought a Democrat running for president in 2020, could “certainly” take Arizona.

“Arizona is still nominally a Republican state … but you cannot run as someone who is tied at the hip to the president and win statewide,” he said.

“Voters in Arizona are rejecting that,” Flake said, alluding to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema’s hard-fought Senate victory over Republican Martha McSally, whose campaign played up her loyalty to Trump.

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