First, Jeff Flake made a major announcement. Then Donald Trump Jr. cut it down to size.
Flake left the Senate after spending the last two years of his term stalwartly opposed to President Donald Trump. The Arizona Republican’s name was often mentioned when pundits were batting around which Republicans might launch a primary challenge in 2020.
At one point, as noted by the Arizona Republic, Flake even tested the waters in the early primary state of New Hampshire.
But on Tuesday, Flake said on CBS “This Morning” he had other plans and would work for CBS instead.
Flake will headline a CBS series that will be called “Common Ground.”
“Common ground may be hard to find in Washington, but it is found everywhere else in the country. I look forward to working with CBS on this new series,” Flake tweeted.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 29, 2019
Donald Trump Jr. could not let that pass without comment.
“Shocked that Jeff flake who wouldn’t have come close to winning his home district isn’t going to run for president,” the president’s son tweeted. “I thought he was a real contender. Maybe try for dog catcher!”
Shocked that Jeff flake who wouldn’t have come close to winning his home district isn’t going to run for president.
I thought he was a real contender?
Maybe try for dog catcher!
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 29, 2019
Flake made it clear Tuesday that he has not lessened his antipathy to Trump.
“I’ve always said that I do hope that there is a Republican who challenges the president in the primary,” Flake said.
“I still hope that somebody does, but that somebody won’t be me,” he said.
“I will not be a candidate.”
Flake bemoaned the fact that his brand of politics was not popular with Republican voters.
He also said said “there really isn’t a path” for a Trump challenger on the Republican side.
The Republican National Committee, he said, is committed to Trump.
“The RNC and the president’s campaign are now melded. They’re trying to do anything they can to squelch any opposition,” Flake said.
“I still hope that some, and some are still talking about, do run. I think that’s healthy, and I’m not a fan of this president. But that won’t be me,” he said.
“I do think that part of the problem I’ve had with the president and the Trumpification of the party is we’re playing the game of subtraction rather than addition,” Flake said. ” And you can drill down hard on the base and just rely on the base getting very excited, and getting out there, that only goes so far.
“It’s drilling down on a diminishing base and this is further evidence of the Trumpification of the party. I don’t think that that ends well, politically.
“The more the party becomes Trump’s party — and this is certainly a further step in that direction, I think the more difficult it is for any statewide candidate in Arizona.”
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