Politics

Flake Brushes off Trump’s Criticism as President Lands in His Backyard

Trump often critical of Arizona senator, who faces tough re-election challenge from both sides

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is trying not to sweat President Donald Trump's criticisms of him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite Donald Trump’s disparaging comments about him, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said he isn’t sweating the president’s visit to Phoenix on Tuesday. 

“I don’t worry about it at all,” Flake said at an event Monday in the Phoenix suburbs, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Arizona Republican also blew off Trump's potential support for Flake’s primary opponent Kelli Ward. 

“That's not my realm. That’s somebody else’s. I just — I’m running my own campaign. It’s going well. And what the president does, that’s his prerogative,” Flake told the newspaper.

Last week, Trump tweeted that it was good Ward was challenging Flake, who Trump called “weak” on immigration and crime

He also called Flake “toxic” and a “non-factor” in the Senate.

Flake has been critical of Trump and his own party in his book “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.”

When Trump and Flake first met last year after Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, Flake introduced himself as “the other senator from Arizona—the one who didn't get captured,” a reference to Trump’s insult toward senior Arizona Sen. John McCain.

But some Arizona Republicans told NPR that they were unhappy with Flake’s criticisms of the president.

“He’s not representing in my opinion the people of Arizona. He’s representing his own self-interest,” said Gene Klund.

Billie Bolwinkel also criticized Flake for supporting comprehensive immigration reform as part of the “Gang of Eight,” calling the bill “a slap in the face.” 

“I think we need to drain the swamp,” she said, using one of Trump’s slogans. “And I think Flake has added to the swamp, and I’m sorry to say that.”

Brigitte Peterson, who is a member of the Gilbert City Council, told the Times it might be premature to be critical of Trump. 

“I’m a Republican, we’re all Republicans, and I just think the senator should give the president a little room,” she said. “It’s so early in his term and I do think everyone seems to be piling on Trump a bit.”

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