Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) weighed in on the 2016 presidential race and explained why he has yet to support his party’s presumptive presidential nominee Donlad Trump.
Flake said he can’t support Trump right now, but hopes to be able to in the future.
Transcript as follows:
SCARBOROUGH: With us now we got Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Jeff, thank you so much for being with us.
I heard Nicolle say, “Are we going to be OK?” speaking of the Republican Party. And you said…
FLAKE: No. I mean, if this doesn’t change, we’re in for big trouble.
BRZEZINSKI: So do you think, that, like, party leaders who have endorsed him should perhaps revoke their endorsements at this point?
FLAKE: No — party leaders are trying to mold him and bring him back to where he…
BRZEZINSKI: Well, it’s not working.
FLAKE: But it’s clearly not working right now.
SCARBOROUGH: It’s gotten worse, in fact, since Paul Ryan’s endorsed him…
FLAKE: And his statements this week on the judge, that’s a new level. Because it’s not just, you know, ill-informed or ignorant statements, but they suggest that when he’s president, you know, after November, that, you know, perhaps he ought to go after that judge. That’s a whole new level. So that’s — it’s very disturbing.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and — and also, a guy that was born in America, a guy from the Midwest like Paul Ryan, born in Indiana. He’s not even looking at his citizenship. He’s not even looking at his place of birth. He’s going in. I mean, this sounds like Nuremberg. Are you 132nd Jewish, are you 1/16 black, are you 1/8 Mexican. Like what — what standard is this? It’s not American.
FLAKE: The whole thing that we Republicans say we’re against is identity politics. To say that if you are a certain gender or you are a certain race that you have to vote that way. He’s just trying to confirm that stereotype that’s completely wrong. And it just — it’s offensive. It really is. And this week it was a whole new level.
BRZEZINSKI: Is there any reason why you would think that he should be president?
FLAKE: He was not my first choice nor choice.
BRZEZINSKI: You had to have one.
FLAKE: He’s the nominee, and we’ll have to deal with that. I hope that he changes. We haven’t yet seen…
SCARBOROUGH: But you’re not endorsing him?
FLAKE: No. No. I — it’s uncomfortable not having endorsed the Republican nominee, I have to say, but I can’t at this point.
WALLACE: Do you think Jeb Bush staked out a reasonably principled position by saying that he won’t vote for Donald trump, he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, he’s going to vote for Republicans up and down (ph) but take it everywhere else (ph). Is that a position — could you see yourself in that position?
FLAKE: I could be. I just don’t know. I hope to be able to support the nominee. I certainly can’t right now.
BRZEZINSKI: Could anyone else — is there any other candidate that you could support?
FLAKE: No, I don’t think that there’s time for a third party candidate at this point. I think we’re – you know, have what we have. And we’re not in a good situation. I mean — let’s face it. But we hope that he’ll come around. We hope that he, you know, on the Muslim ban and on this latest statement, I hope he walks it back. He seems to for a day or two, but you never know where he’s going to be the next day. And so…
BRZEZINSKI: That’s what you’re going to be deal with for four years?
FORD: Part of the conversation this morning, and over the last several weeks, Jeff, has been about what this says about the base of the Republican Party. And the base is not where Donald Trump is, but the base in large part helped propel him to the nomination.
What does this is a about the Republican base in your estimation? This is not the Arizona Republican base, but it may be other bases around the country. What does this mean going forward?
FLAKE: Well, he won Arizona. He did, but there’s a big difference between winning a primary and winning a general election.
And he’ll have trouble in Arizona, if he continues to stake out the positions that he has staked out. I do think that the base will come around and realize, hey, we’ve got to win a general election, and these views, it’s fun, you know, during a primary to, you know, take it to the man, whatever, but in the end, you have to win elections. And you have got to represent not just a few with the base of the party, but the broader electorate.
So, I hope he comes around.
SCARBOROUGH: Steve Schmidt is with us, and has a question.
SCHMIDT: How worried are you about Arizona? Can you see you a scenario where there’s a surge in Hispanic and Latino voting turnout in Arizona, it tips into the Democratic column into November?
FLAKE: Yes, I do. And it’s not just Latino voters. Latinos make up about 33 percent of the population. It’s less of that in terms of registered voters and even less than that in terms of turnout.
But it is significant. And I worry about that, but I worry more about the broader electorate. Right-thinking Republicans want somebody who is serious, for example, on immigration reform. And saying that we’re going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it is not a serious proposal.
They want serious proposals on how to deal with this war on terrorism — saying that you’re going to ban Muslims from entering the country is not a serious proposal. So, it’s not just the Hispanic voters that I’m concerned about. I am concerned about them, but it’s the broader electorate, broader Republicans.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Well, said.
BRZEZINSKI: Senator Jeff Flake, thank you so much. We appreciate your candor. Very uncomfortable position.
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