Not only has President Donald Trump consolidated his hold of the Republican Party, but he has also "absolutely" redefined it, and you cannot challenge him and expect to be re-elected, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Sunday.
"You can't, as a Republican these days, stand in opposition to some of the president's policies or not condone his behavior and expect to win a Republican primary," Flake, a frequent Trump critic, told ABC's "This Week." "That's the reality and then we're seeing that played out.
"Now, I don't think that that will last, but that is the reality right now."
Stopping short of suggesting he might oppose President Trump in a 2020 primary, Flake told ABC's George Stephanopoulos he hopes "somebody does."
"I've said many times I hope that somebody does in the Republican primary just to remind Republicans what it means to be conservative or Republican — that we believe in limited government, economic freedom, free trade, immigration," Flake concluded. "I hope that somebody does that."
Taking on the president is a tall order for Republicans amid a potential midterm blue wave, according to Flake, because the GOP polls far lower than the president in many respects.
"Yeah, I think a lot of people, Republicans in the House and Senate, look at us with a 14 percent institutional favorability rating and long for the president's 40 percent," Flake said, who was reminded by Stephanopoulos the only modern-era GOP president to have higher approval ratings than President Trump at this stage of his term was former President George W. Bush after 9/11.
"So, it makes it difficult that way for a lot of my colleagues to say, 'Hey, let's stand up to the president.'"
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