Tags: Donald Trump | jeff flake | donald trump | support | shirt vs. skins | republicans

Flake Retiring Over 'Shirts vs. Skins' Politics of Opposing Trump

Flake Retiring Over 'Shirts vs. Skins' Politics of Opposing Trump
Sen. Jeff Flake (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 09 November 2017 01:06 PM

Sen. Jeff Flake said the "shirt vs. skins" mentality of opposing President Donald Trump was the driving force behind his decision to retire.

A guest on Preet Bharara's "Stay Tuned" podcast earlier this week, the Arizona Republican said he couldn't speak out against issues that are "not normal" in this country while doing the necessary things to run and, eventually, likely lose a primary next year.

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"Right now in the Republican Party, if you are not four-square behind the president, both in terms of policy and behavior, then you're not welcome in the party," Flake told Bharara.

Flake said he felt he couldn't do both — run for re-election and speak out — especially when polling Republican voters reveal their No. 1 issue is, "Are you with the president," Flake said.

"It's become a shirt vs. skins kind of exercise. You're either with the president or you're against him," Flake told Bharara. "It's really important for some of us, at least, to stand up now and say, 'What we're experiencing is not right and it's not normal.'"

Flake reiterated his position that populism is not a governing philosophy, but said the "fever" of nationalism has yet to lose its grip on many Americans, including Arizona voters.

"I had hoped this fever would kind of break by the time the primary comes . . . I do think ultimately the fever will break," Flake said. "It became increasingly clear it wasn't going to change by next year.

"I could spend that time trying to thread that needle and cozy up to the president as much as I could to persuade the voters . . . (but) they're firmly right now behind the president," Flake told Bharara.

But Bharara pressed Flake, asking why not stay in and fight, knowing that you may lose, a criticism directed at Flake in the aftermath of his retirement announcement and speech on the Senate floor.

"You have to dedicate every waking moment to raising money . . . that's a tremendous toll on your family," Flake said. "I don't wanna run to lose; I wanna run to win. And I can just as effectively speak out, more effectively . . . without spending time raising money.

"The toughest part of this is seeming to back away from a fight or a battle," Flake said. "I don't think there's a way you can tell the truth about what's going on in politics today and actually stand up the way you ought to stand up — I don't think you can do that now and win a primary battle in Arizona."

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Sen. Jeff Flake said the "shirt vs. skins" mentality of opposing President Donald Trump was the driving force behind his decision to retire.
jeff flake, donald trump, support, shirt vs. skins, republicans
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2017-06-09
Thursday, 09 November 2017 01:06 PM
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