President Donald Trump lashed out at Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, tweeting out his disbelief that Flake could ever consider running for political office ever again.
Flake has not ruled out presenting Trump with a unique challenge — as a possible primary opponent in 2020. Flake, who is part of the GOP just like Trump, has been critical of the president on many occasions and has said that “my party might not deserve to lead” if they continue to back an “erratic leader” like Trump.
The president on Thursday took a jab at Flake, tweeting out his disbelief that anyone could support his candidacy against himself or any other “lower” office.
How could Jeff Flake, who is setting record low polling numbers in Arizona and was therefore humiliatingly forced out of his own Senate seat without even a fight (and who doesn’t have a clue), think about running for office, even a lower one, again? Let’s face it, he’s a Flake!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
“How could Jeff Flake, who is setting record low polling numbers in Arizona and was therefore humiliatingly forced out of his own Senate seat without even a fight (and who doesn’t have a clue), think about running for office, even a lower one, again?” Trump asked. “Let’s face it, he’s a Flake!”
Flake would indeed have a difficult time justifying a run against Trump. But interestingly, there are a few historical examples of an individual failing in their home state but doing well nationally. One very prominent example is Abraham Lincoln, who lost a bid to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate just two years before he won election to the presidency.
That history aside, it is Trump who should be at least a little bit worried about a primary challenge from Flake or anyone else for that matter. Only half of Republican voters in a poll from May said that Trump would definitely get their support if he was forced into a primary. Nearly two-in-five said they’d definitely support someone else, and 12 percent were unsure who they’d back.
Those numbers aren’t indicators that Trump would lose a primary, but they’re not demonstrating he’s a shoe-in to win the party’s nomination in 2020 either.
Perhaps, sensing his vulnerability, this is why Trump is dedicating his so-called “executive time” on social media attacking Flake. Knowing that his numbers could slip even lower in two years, Trump is laying the groundwork now to ensure he has perfected a message against Flake in 2020.
The GOP ought to consider every option available to them by that time. The future of their party may very well depend on them rejecting another Trump candidacy.