Flake Calls for 2020 Trump Primary Challenger

Tuesday, 13 Mar, 2018

Flake, during an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press", criticized the president both for his constant attacks on the press and for his decisions to apply new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said President Donald Trump needed to be challenged by a Republican in 2020 presidential primary.

Trump's tariffs, which he announced last Thursday, were met with swift opposition from numerous president's fellow Republicans who say they will harm the economy.

Host Chuck Todd asked, "Do you think he needs to be challenged from somebody who espouses your views?"

Flake, whom many speculate has his own presidential ambitions, did not indicate whether he meant to be that challenger.

In several television interviews, Warren, who has been touted as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, said she saw a role for tariffs as part of U.S. trade policy. "But that's not to say it will stay that way".

"Yes, I do ― I do", Flake said. It would be a tough go in a Republican primary. Last year, he wrote a book rebuking his own Republican Party for embracing Trump-style nationalism and protectionism at the expense of traditional conservative values such as free trade.

On the tariffs, Flake said Trump had introduced "dual poisons" for the economy, by erecting new trade barriers and then introducing uncertainty by suggesting he might make some exceptions for certain countries. "We need a comprehensive rethinking of our trade policy".

"I think we're going completely the wrong direction", Flake said.

Flake also reiterated his belief that Trump's behavior as president, such as continuing to verbally abuse the media, "does real damage long term to the political culture" and should not be normalized.

Warren's comments came one day after Trump again derided her as "Pocahontas" at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, referring to her having claimed Cherokee and Delaware Indian heritage.

Dan Nowicki is national political reporter for The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK.