Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., became the second Republican lawmaker to harshly and directly criticize President Donald Trump Tuesday when he delivered a Senate-floor speech announcing his decision not to seek re-election.
“I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit,” Flake said, hours after Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told a reporter he believes Trump’s behavior “debases our country.”
In an initial response to Flake’s scathing speech, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered little comment on behalf of the White House aside from the opinion that it is probably a “good idea” he decided against a re-election bid.
“I haven’t spoken with (Trump) directly since the announcement by Sen. Flake, but I think that based on previous statements and certainly based on the lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona, it’s probably a good move,” she said at a media briefing Tuesday
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As Western Journalism previously reported, early polling has shown Flake with less support than would-be Republican challenger Dr. Kelli Ward.
The comments by Flake and Corker Tuesday came after weeks of brewing tension between Trump and the two Republican senators.
“It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party — the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things,” Flake said in his speech.
He directly invoked Trump more than once in the impassioned speech.
“Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough,” Flake said.
He went on to say Americans “must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal,” arguing that “we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner.”
Trump has not yet addressed Flake’s comments on Twitter. He posted several responses to Corker’s criticism earlier in the day, The Washington Post reported.
A third Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, took a veiled swipe at Trump’s Vietnam-era draft deferments in an interview that aired Sunday.
Image and Content: Western Journalism