Retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake on Thursday appeared to place preemptive blame on President Donald Trump for any Democratic wave in the midterm elections, saying the GOP "might not deserve to lead."
In a speech to the National Press Club, the Arizona senator declared "these are not normal political times."
"If we are going to cloister ourselves in the alternative truth of an erratic leader, if we are going to refuse to live in a world that everyone else lives in ... then my party might not deserve to lead," he said.
"As we are discovering ... there is no damage like the damage that a president can do," he added.
"If one voice can do such profound damage to our values and to our civic life, then one voice can also repair the damage, one voice can call us to a higher idea of America, one voice can act as a beacon to help us find ourselves once again after this terrible fever breaks — and it will break," he said.
The rebuke of President Donald Trump was just the latest for Flake, who was facing a tough re-election bid and decided not to run for a second term; CNN noted he's delivered major speeches on the Senate floor targeting Trump and wrote a book blasting his own party for enabling Trump's success.
"Never has a party abandoned, fled its principles and deeply held beliefs so quickly as my party did in the face of the nativist juggernaut," he told the press club. "We have become strangers to ourselves."
"Those who vote in Republican primaries are overwhelmingly supportive of the president," he said. "I think that could turn and will turn and must turn. But that is the case right now. It would be a tough challenge for anyone to take, and I just hope someone does it."
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