Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said during a radio interview Wednesday that President Donald Trump is inviting a primary challenge in 2020 due to the way he’s choosing to govern.
The Arizona senator is up for re-election in 2018 and has often criticized the president. Trump has lashed out at Flake in response.
At a rally in Arizona this week, Trump blasted both of the state’s Republican senators without naming them. He criticized Sen. John McCain for being the “one vote” that sank an Obamacare replacement bill and seemingly referred to Flake as “weak on borders” and “weak on crime.”
“I will not mention any names,” Trump said. “Very presidential, isn't it? Very presidential.”
But the next morning, the president took to Twitter to name Flake.
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 (@Donald J. Trump)1503494415.0
Earlier this month, Trump tweeted praise for one of Flake’s primary challengers, Dr. Kelli Ward, and called Flake “toxic.”
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!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1502967393.0
Asked during an interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting's "Political Rewind" Wednesday if Trump might face a primary challenge, Flake replied, “I don’t know.”
"I think that certainly depends on him," Flake said. "I think he could govern in a way that he wouldn't. 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 — you know, I think he's inviting one."
In an interview on Fox News Thursday morning, Flake was asked why Trump is not a fan of him.
"I don't know. I want to work with the president when I think that he's right, and I'll challenge him when I think that he's wrong," Flake replied.