Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has been on a tear this week promoting his new book, Conscience of a Conservative, which goes after President Donald Trump and the current state of the Republican party — and appeared on Morning Joe Tuesday to provide his extensive thoughts.
The book was previewed in an excerpt published in Politico Monday, entitled “My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump,” in which the Arizona Republican details the “collapse and dysfunction” of government that has marked the rise of Trump.
Flake told Morning Joe that he has “been concerned for quite some time” about the erosion of what it means to be conservative: “I’m concerned that the type of policies going forward — protectionism, isolationism — are really not conservative values, and I am concerned about where the party goes if we embrace those kind of principles.”
The Arizona senator, who has been one of the more outspoken critics of Trump on the right since the reality TV-star launched his unlikely bid for the presidency in 2015, also said he has concerns about demeanor.
“A conservative is nothing, particularly in foreign policy, if he’s not measured, and sober, and predictable,” Flake said.
Flake said one chief concern he had was the firing of FBI director James Comey, notably Trump’s comments that it had to do with the Russia investigation: “that should have set off more alarm bells than it did,” Flake said.
More broadly, he said he is “very concerned about where the party is going, and the anti-immigration fervor” Trump has injected into the GOP.
“There’s a level of meanness to conservatism now in this country that’s bothersome,” Morning Joe’s Mike Barnicle remarked.
“If we ascribe the worst motives to our opponents, and demean them, and call them clowns or losers, you just lose the ability to sit down and solve the big issues and actually enact conservative policy,” Flake said. “That’s the paradox of all of this.”
“Somehow conservatism has become being mean or loud, and you can’t enact conservative policy if you act that way,” he added.
“To be conservative can’t be to embrace conspiracy theories, or to talk about alternative facts,” Flake continued, referencing Kellyanne Conway’s infamous comments on the president’s predilection for dishonesty.
On foreign policy, Flake argued Republicans “have always stood for principles and have done so in a sober, consistent, predictable manner.”
“And chaos is the last thing that our allies and adversaries need to be seeing,” he continued. “And I’m afraid they’re seeing too much of that.”
Flake isn’t a screamer, but it’s a brutal interview. It’s no wonder Trump is eagerly looking for a GOP primary challenger for him.
Watch both parts of the segment above, via MSNBC.
[image via screengrab]
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