Outgoing Senator Jeff Flake continued his call for a Republican challenger to Donald Trump in 2020 in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Wednesday. Flake floated name like Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ben Sasse as well as himself as potential Trump rivals. Flake also commented on the potential firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the Republican loss in Pennslyvania, and Trump's criticism of the free press while tamping down criticism of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
"It would seem to be odd to fire somebody just to deprive them of their pension, unless there was just cause and I just don't know if that just cause is there. I haven't seen," Flake said of McCabe.
Flake said there are lessons to be learned from the loss of the Pennsylvania special election such as "you can only drill down on the base so far.
"I think it’s a big lesson," he said of Democratic candidate Conor Lamb's victory. "It’s a lesson that you can only drill down on the base so far. We've got to broaden our appeal and that's why I’ve been worried about what direction Republican Party is going. We can't win statewide elections like this. We can’t win in purple districts like this."
Flake on Republicans winning in the future and Trump attacking the media:
TAPPER: Is there anyone you can think of who will deliver the message other than you? John Kasich? Ben Sasse?
FLAKE: Yes, John Kasich, Ben Sasse, would be great representatives for that message. There are a number of people, a number of governors out there as well. So -- but I just think that traditional Republicans, and it's not just, you know, believing in the principles of conservatism, but being conservative in demeanor and comportment as well. And not insulting people. Not going to a rally and hoping to feel a broader base to win an election by making fun of the Democrats, or tamping down criticism of Kim Jong-un, while encouraging criticism of our free press.
These are things are just going to make it very difficult for Republicans to win in the future if we embrace that kind of message.