‘The president is very popular among primary voting Republicans. And my colleagues know that…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Re-election is the only reason Republicans are supporting President Donald Trump, according to former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
In an interview with PBS, Flake said that Republicans haven’t denounced Trump or the “Send her back!” chant that took place in a North Carolina rally because they’re too busy playing a political game.
“Well, obviously, those who are close to re-election don’t want to see any distance between themselves and the president,” Flake said.
“The president is very popular among primary voting Republicans. And my colleagues know that. And so it’s difficult to politically to stand up. But, I mean, that should be no excuse.”
Flake said that even thought the president didn’t start the “Send her back” chant or chime in, he encouraged that kind of rhetoric by telling Omar to “go back” where she came from in an earlier tweet.
Despite being hounded by mainstream media, Republicans in large part resisted the outcry to condemn Trump. Only four GOP House members sided with Democrats on a resolution to condemn the president’s remarks.
Many observed in defense of Trump that Democrats had done little to rebuke the hostile, anti-American statements issued by Omar and other members of the “Squad” of freshman congresswomen whom Trump was said to have targeted.
Others noted that there was a historical precedent in slogans like “Love it or leave it” that the president was tapping into, and that the remarks were not directed at the Democrats’ cultural identities but at their policies and rhetoric.
Flake, however, claimed it was self-preservation that motivated most of his former colleagues.
“Well, it’s, frankly, an awful thing to say, ‘Go back to where you came from,’” Flake said. “It’s just not commission we ought to countenance. And it’s damaging. It’s damaging, obviously, for the president and his standing, but it’s nothing that any of us ought to stand for.”
Flake developed a reputation for being a vocal NeverTrump Republican, frequently attacking and criticizing the president during his first two years. That ultimately cost him popularity in his home state.
Facing both primary challenges and grim re-election prospects, he decided not to run again in the 2018 race.
“I would like to see more push-back, obviously, on the president’s language. But I have wished that for a while,” he continued. “And so I wish that my Republican colleagues wouldn’t even try and simply say, ‘Mr. President, this is unbecoming of the office, you shouldn’t say it, and you ought to apologize, and certainly not stand by and listen to people chant it at your rallies.’”
But Flake said that he understands why Republicans would be hesitant to cross Trump and his voter base.
“For me, when I was deciding whether I would run for re-election, you know, one of the things that I had to consider and what weighed most heavily on my mind is having to stand with the president on a campaign stage, if he were to campaign with me, which he would have, I assume, if he didn’t oppose me in Arizona,” Flake said.
“And I would have had to have been OK when people chanted ‘Lock her up,’ for example. I would have had to have been OK when he ridiculed my colleagues, my Democratic colleagues in the Senate, or ridiculed minorities in my state, or my colleague John McCain,” he continued.
“And I determined I simply couldn’t do that. There are limits, and I think that the president has long tested them. And I would hope that we would stand up, as Republicans, and say, we cannot normalize this kind of behavior,” Flake said.