As President Donald Trump travels around the country to push for Republican unity ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, outgoing Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake laid bare the deep chasms within the party.
Flake, a long-time Trump antagonist, denounced the president during a Friday interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” zeroing in on an ad Trump released attacking Democrats on immigration.
On Wednesday, Trump released a video about cop killer and illegal immigrant Luis Bracamontes and urged voters to abandon Democrats.
“It is outrageous what the Democrats are doing to our Country. Vote Republican now!” Trump tweeted.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Flake called the ad “sickening.”
“I certainly don’t like the tone that President Trump has taken with regard to blaming immigrants. Having that ad, which I thought was just sickening. And frankly, very untrue with regard to the threat that is posed by illegal immigrants,” Flake said on CNN.
Flake then defended Senate Democrats.
“And the notion that Democrats have prevented any fix, the last real vote we had on substantial immigration reform was the bipartisan bill we did in 2013. Every Democrat in the Senate voted for that bill, which included about $41 billion for additional border security. That’s more than the president has even asked for on border security. So this notion that this is all the Democrats’ fault is just wrong,” he said.
Flake then took one more dig at Trump’s tactics.
“To see the fear-mongering, particularly with regard to immigration is unseemly,” he said.
The result of this division in the party has revealed itself in polling. For example, in Wisconsin, Marquette Law School pollster Charles Franklin said moderate Republicans — the wing of the party represented by legislators such as Flake — are very lukewarm about the party’s choices as the election approaches, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
“There is clearly not a monolithic Republican Party,” said Dina Smeltz, a senior fellow of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
As GOP candidates make their homestretch appeals, they are making unity a top issue.
“If Republicans can turn out the vote, and remain fairly unified, Republicans win,” said Kansas GOP gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, KMBC reported.
“Gotta’ get the votes out,” he said. “If we do, we’ll win this thing.”
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