Jeff Flake rules out 2020 primary challenge to Trump

Former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, whose vociferous criticism of Donald Trump sparked widespread speculation that he could mount a primary challenge to the President, flatly said Tuesday he will not launch a primary campaign against Trump in 2020.

“I’ve always said that I do hope that there is a Republican who challenges the President in the primary. I still hope that somebody does. But that somebody will not be me. I will not be a candidate,” Flake said on “CBS This Morning.”

“There really isn’t a path, right now, that I can see. Certainly not unless you’re willing to be out there already raising a lot of money and basically living on the road right now,” said Flake, who represented Arizona before his retirement earlier this month.

The former senator added that he thinks a Republican challenger to Trump is “healthy.”

“And I’m not a fan of this President,” he said. “But that (challenger) won’t be me.”

Flake said an independent challenge to Trump would take “a very difficult path.”

“Traditionally, that’s what history tells us,” he said. “I mean, you can see a scenario where it could play out though. If there’s somebody on the far left nominated in the Democratic Party, if the Republicans still nominate a weakened president, then there is perhaps a lane for an independent. That’s difficult to see, but stranger things have happened, and I think we’re living in strange times.”

Flake did not address whether he would seek such a candidacy.