'Heaven help us': Jeff Flake announces he won't seek re-election in speech slamming Trump
- Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2018.
- Flake said that, under President Donald Trump, "there may not be a place for a Republican like me."
- Flake has been an outspoken critic of the president, who has endorsed another GOP candidate competing for Flake's Senate seat.
Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, will not seek reelection in 2018, he announced Tuesday.
Flake delivered a long and searing indictment of the president and his fellow Republicans who remain loyal to the administration.
"When the next generation asks us, 'Why didn't you do something? Why didn't you speak up?' What are we going to say?" Flake said. "Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough."
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Flake went on to warn his colleagues, and the country, that failing to stand up to Trump could spell disaster for the nation.
Here are the highlights:
- "It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end."
- "We must never regard as 'normal' the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons."
- "With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that."
- "The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters — the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Flake's fellow Arizona senator, John McCain, both praised the senator's service to the country and his "high-minded ideals" following his speech.
"I have seen Jeff Flake stand up for what he believes in knowing full well that there would be a political price to pay," McCain said.
Flake told The Arizona Republic that his brand of libertarian-leaning Republican politics does not square with some of Trump's policy positions, including on immigration and trade, and that he could not condone the president's behavior.
"There may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party," Flake told The Republic, adding, "this spell will pass, but not by next year."
"Here's the bottom line: The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I'm not willing to take, and that I can't in good conscience take," he said. "It would require me to believe in positions I don't hold on such issues as trade and immigration and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone."
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon predicted that Flake, whose approval rating has hovered around 20% for the past few months, would give up his seat, telling The New York Times last month that if Flake "doesn't get a better poll in the next 30 days, you're going to see him step down or the establishment is going to make him."
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