Moments after U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) made a controversial speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday where he disavowed President Donald Trump, announced his decision not to run for re-election, and his desire to use his remaining year in the Senate to take on the President, he made clear on an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN on Tuesday that he was considering a 2020 presidential bid.
Asked whether he could challenge Trump in 2020, Flake repeatedly refused to rule out the prospect, merely noting that 2020 is “a long time away”.
“Certainly, I didn’t support the president in the last election, but it’s early – that time will take care of itself,” Flake said.
“Nothing that he’s done has earned my support since that time or made me more likely to vote for him, you know, in the second run,” he continued. “So, that’s all I’ll say.”
There is little doubt that Flake’s remarks were carefully calculated to send a warning that he is challenge to the President’s leadership. However, given his stark differences with the Republican base on crucial issues such as trade and immigration, it seems unlikely that the Arizona Senator will have much success.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), another high profile outgoing Republican Senator, was quick to back a prospective Flake candidacy. Corker, who was once floated as prospective Vice President or Secretary of State under Trump, expressed openness to forming a ticket with Flake, which he described as “the dogcatcher field”, ominously noting that he “does like dogs”. This was a reference to an attack on Flake by President Trump earlier that day, where the President declared that Corker “couldn’t be elected dog catcher in Tennessee”.
Other potential 2020 primary challengers to the President include Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), and businessman Mark Cuban, who recently announced that he would run as a Republican if he did decide to make a bid.