Retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake is leaving the Senate because he couldn’t run a campaign he would be proud of and not because of his tanking poll numbers, he said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.”
“It’s tough. I’m competitive, I like to fight these battles. But I also know that I couldn’t run the kind of race that I would be proud of and win in a Republican primary at this time,” Flake said. “The politics in that way has changed. You can be conservative on policy and it doesn’t matter it seems as much as being with the president or not criticizing him, even if you think he’s wrong.”
The Arizona Republican blamed his state’s voters for their political beliefs, and half-halfheartedly apologized for not being able to stand with President Donald Trump.
“I can tell you it’s very difficult to be re-elected in the Republican party right now, in Arizona in particular,” he said. “It doesn’t matter so much the policies you adopt or your votes, it’s if you’re with the president. And I can’t be with the president at all times. I’m sorry.”
Many of Flake’s colleagues share his views on Trump and he thinks more of them will continue to speak up down the road.
“I hope we’ve reached a tipping point of some type, where we don’t continue to normalize by being silent the kind of behavior that we’ve seen,” he said.
Trump tweeted Wednesday that Flake and GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee are not seeking re-election because they would never win.
The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected. Now act so hurt & wounded!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2017
Flake said he is focused on his remaining time in Congress.
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