If President Donald Trump decides to pursue a second term he may face competition to be the Republican party’s presidential nominee for the 2020 campaign, a U.S. senator said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
Sen. Jeff Flake warned that President Trump will face a primary challenge or an independent opponent in 2020 if the Republican continues his bombastic ways.
“I do believe if the President is running for re-election, if he continues on the path that he’s on, that that’s going to leave a huge swath of voters looking for someone else,” Flake (R-Ariz.) said in an interview with ABC News’ “This Week” that aired Sunday.
“I think he’s inviting that. He’s probably inviting a Republican challenge as well.”
But will that challenger be Flake, who’s previously bashed the President and set to retire at the end of 2018?
“I don’t rule anything out but it’s not in my plans,” a coy Flake said.
Flake is among the few Republican lawmakers who have publicly criticized the president, both on a personal level and for his policies which the senator deems extreme.
The Arizona Senator has been critical about the path his party is taking. He pointed to rallies for Trump and other firebrand conservatives, where the audiences are like “spasms of a dying party.”
“You look at the audiences cheering for Republicans… you look out there and say, those are the spasms of a dying party,” he said in the interview.
“By and large, we’re appealing to older white men. And there are just a limited number of them. And anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.”
Flake was circumspect when asked if he was considering a run in 2020.
“I don’t rule anything out but it’s not in my plans for now,” he said.
Congressman Charlie Dent, a leading Republican moderate in the House of Representatives who is also stepping down next year, on Sunday denounced what he characterized as the party’s blind loyalty to Trump.
“The issue is loyalty to the man. To the president. And for some, loyalty is not enough. You have to be angry and aggrieved,” he said on ABC.
“I have said to folks, if I set myself on fire for them, they would complain that the temperature of the flame is not hot enough.”
Dent said that even though he expects Republicans to maintain their legislative majority in mid-term elections in November 2018, the party can still expect to lose seats.
His advice to colleagues: “Be prepared for the worst because this could be a really tough year.”