Donald Trump: Jeff Flake ‘Did the Right Thing’ by Retiring

L: Sen. Jeff Flake announces on Oct. 24, 2017, that he will not seek re-election. R: Trump smiles.
Associated Press

President Donald Trump approved of Sen. Jeff Flake’s decision to retire rather than run for re-election as senator of Arizona.

“His poll numbers in Arizona are so low, that he couldn’t win,” Trump said. “And I don’t blame him for leaving. I think he did the right thing for himself.”

Trump responded to reporters’ questions about Flake’s dramatic Senate speech on Tuesday, announcing his retirement and denouncing the president for bringing a different tone to Washington, DC.

The president noted that Flake was criticizing him long before he ever knew who the Arizona senator was, admitting that when he first saw him on television, he thought the conservative senator was a Democrat.

“His poll numbers are terrible. He’s done terribly for the great people of Arizona, a state that likes Donald Trump very much,” Trump said, adding that Flake’s decision to leave the Senate would allow him to exit “gracefully.”

He acknowledged that Flake voted with him 91 percent of the time, but Arizona’s Republicans liked Trump.

“I’m very high on Arizona. I love the people. They like me,” he said. “They like security at the border, you know, all of the things.”

Trump said he did not think that Flake’s decision to retire would jeopardize the Republican plan to reform the tax code.

“I really believe he’s going to do the right thing for the country,” he said. “He’s going to vote for tax cuts because we desperately need tax cuts to put our people back to work.”