Flake said he has engaged in “conversations” with other Republican officeholders about the prospects of a GOP presidential primary challenger but that “nothing formal” is in the works.
The Arizona senator opted against running for re-election for a second term to the U.S. Senate this year amid questions about his own ability to fend off challengers in the state’s Republican primary. But he suggested he could potentially become a more attractive candidate down the road if the party loses more races like the special election this week in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, where the party came up short despite Trump’s 20-point winning margin there in 2016.
“Right now, this is the president’s party,” Flake said. “Republican primary voters in Arizona and elsewhere are firmly with the president — by large majorities. But I do think that will change. And as that changes, we’ll see.”
Flake’s visit visit comes a week before President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visit the Granite State. Outside of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Flake is the most high profile Republican to have opened up the possibility of challenging Trump.
He released a book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” last summer that asserted Republicans were engaged in “spasms of a dying party.”
On Friday, he derided President Trump’s “penchant for destruction.”
“Perhaps what will be most remembered from this period will be the president’s war on objective reality and the reflexive impulse to speak falsely,” Flake said.