Sen. Jeff Flake eyes 2020 primary challenge to stop Trump
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Jeff Flake has a direct message for the Republicans of New Hampshire: Someone needs to stop Donald Trump. And Flake, a Republican senator from Arizona, may stand up against the Republican president in 2020 – either as a Republican or an independent – if no one else does.
"It has not been in my plans to run for president, but I have not ruled it out," the 55-year-old Flake said today in his first solo political appearance in New Hampshire. The state is expected to host the nation's first presidential primary election in less than two years.
"I hope that that someone does run in the Republican primary, somebody to challenge the president," Flake said. "I think that the Republicans want to be reminded what it means to be a traditional, decent Republican."
After attacking Trump in a speech that spanned nearly 20 minutes, Flake earned a standing ovation from the packed room that gathered for the esteemed "Politics and Eggs" speaker series at Saint Anselm College.
Flake is among a very small group of Republican elected officials speaking out against the Trump presidency with increasing alarm.
He has already written a book that slams Trump. He condemned Trump on the Senate floor and charged in a speech on Thursday at the National Press Club that his party "might not deserve to lead" because of its blind loyalty to Trump. By visiting New Hampshire, Flake is now declaring the possibility of another tactic: a 2020 primary challenge.
On the ground in the Granite State, a full year before presidential candidates typically begin courting local voters, there is already an expectation among top Republicans that Trump will face a challenge from within his own party in the next presidential contest. Yet few think Trump could be defeated, even under the worst circumstances.