Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (R-Ariz.) said Thursday that President Trump is “inviting” a presidential primary challenge in 2020 because he’s paying too much attention to appeasing his base.
Flake, whose public attacks on Trump could provoke the president to back a primary challenger against him, made the comments Wednesdayduring an interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting when asked if Trump will face a primary challenge.
“I don’t know, I think that certainly depends on him. I think he could govern in a way that he wouldn’t,” Flake said in audio first disseminated widely by CNN.
“But, I think that the way that, the direction he’s headed right now, just kinda drilling down on the base rather than trying to expand the base, I think he’s inviting one.”
The warnings about a primary challenge come as Trump continues to suggest that he’ll back a Republican primary challenge to Flake’s 2018 reelection bid. The president has repeatedly criticized Flake, recently taking to Twitter to jab him while praising his GOP primary opponent, former state Sen. Kelli Ward.
“Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!” Trump tweeted last week.
And this week, after chiding Flake at a rally in Phoenix without mentioning him by name, Trump took to Twitter to make his target clear.
“Phoenix crowd last night was amazing — a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!” he tweeted Wednesday morning.
Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2017
Trump also met with other potential Flake primary challengers in Phoenix, Politico reported.
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