Republican Jeff Flake delivered a speech Thursday at the annual 'Politics and Eggs' event at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. Flake said that during the administration of President Donald Trump, conservatives were an endangered species and the Republican Party had surrendered to a "propaganda-fueled dystopian view."
Flake, who recently called for a 2020 Republican primary challenger against President Trump, is in the group of people who might do just that. "I haven't ruled it out," he told CNN later in this same day.
"I stand before you today the rarest of species," the retiring moderate Republican said at the start of his speech. "The American Conservative."
"Americanus Never-Trumpus, subgenus RINO," he joked. "There is a scurrilous rumor afoot that we're not only rare but endangered. I don't believe it!"
"But seriously, when the putatively conservative party loses its grasp on the meaning of basic terms --basically, the word conservative-- that could just be a sign we've taken a wrong turn," he said. "Say, hypothetically in 2018 we have a libertine budget-busting president who exudes chaos and dotes on authoritarians, who has replaced the State Dept. with Twitter, lives in a golden palace when he's not at the White House, and he's the conservative... And I'm the RINO."
"The amazing thing is that in Washington right now, among people in my party, when you hear those two comparative profiles, people will say... yeah what's the problem? It is like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What have we done with all the conservatives?"
"In seriousness though, we have a long road to recover as a party."
Later, he said: "There is nothing that will be more vital then to expunge from the American record then this frenzied attack on the truth. There are few jobs that will be more difficult than putting that particular horseback in the barn. Such is the power of the president to either build or destroy. And the irony should not escape us here that someone whose name became known to us as a builder would have such a pension for destruction."
"What does it say about conservatives that our message is so different than the words that my parents thought me, so different as to amount to a rejection of the optimistic vision of Ronald Reagan, the extraordinary decency of George H. W. Bush, the principled constitutionalism of Barry Goldwater? What does it say that we have succumbed to what can only be described as a propaganda-fueled dystopian view of conservatism?" he asked.