Anti-Trump GOP Senator: Rallies ‘Spasms of a Dying Party’

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Trump rallies and comparable gatherings are a bad sign for the Republican Party, an anti-Trump senator said Sunday.

“When you look at some of the audiences cheering for Republicans sometimes, you look out there and say, ‘Those are the spasms of a dying party’,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) on ABC’s This Week.

Flake told interviewer Jonathan Karl that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s approach, which he called “ultranationalist, ethnonationalist, protectionist,” is bad for the GOP. But the overall outlook is bad for the party, too, he said, because of what he described as its limited appeal.

“When you look at the lack of diversity, sometimes. That depends on where you are, obviously. But by and large, we’re appealing to older white men. And there [are] just, a limited number of them,” Flake said. “Anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy. So you have to actually govern and do something. Sooner or later, the voters will figure out – I think they are and have – you gotta have something else.”

Flake has supported Trump on trying to repeal Obamacare (an effort that failed) and on the GOP tax cut (which Trump signed into law this past week).

But he has often criticized the president, and he plans to make a series of speeches against Trump.

Flake told Karl he regrets Trump’s past claims that “institutions are sick” in the country and that the country’s electoral process is a “rigged system.” He also criticized the president for making “statements that are just demonstrably false.”

“We need as a democracy, and as a country, shared facts that we can agree on,” Flake said.

Flake isn’t running for re-election in 2018 in Arizona, where his approval rating in October was just 30 percent. He has acknowledged that he could not win a Republican U.S. Senate primary in Arizona next year.

But Karl asked Flake if he might run for president in 2020.

“I don’t rule anything out, but it’s not in my plans,” Flake said.

Yet Flake said he sees an opportunity for some centrist in 2020, particularly if Trump approaches the campaign by “drilling down hard on a diminishing base” and if the Democrats nominate a left-winger like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

“That leaves a huge swath of voters in the middle looking for something else,” Flake said.