WASHINGTON — Recently retired GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced Tuesday that he will not mount a primary challenge against President Donald Trump next year.
“I have always said that I do hope that there is a Republican who challenges the president in the primary. I still hope that somebody does, but that somebody won’t be me. I will not be a candidate,” Flake said in an interview with “CBS This Morning.”
Flake, a frequent Trump critic, served in the Senate from 2013-19. He decided not to seek re-election. Flake’s seat is now held by Krysten Sinema, a Democrat.
In a speech on the Senate floor last January, Flake compared Trump’s frequent characterization of the press as the “enemy of the people” to rhetoric used by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
“It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies,” Flake said. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even [Soviet leader] Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”
Flake also wrote a book in which he blasted Trump’s leadership style.