Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on Monday joined two dozen former GOP lawmakers in support of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Flake spoke with Fox News Channel’s Martha MacCallum, the first night of the Republican National Convention to discuss crossing party lines to support Biden, who MacCallum noted has said he will be “the most progressive president in history.”
MacCallum asked Flake why he, as a lifelong Republican supports Biden.
Flake explained that Biden is a “creature of the Senate” and knows how to compromise. He also noted the former vice president has said and shown he can “work across the aisle.”
MacCallum told Flake he just does not like Trump’s “character,” which Flake pushed back against and said he does not like that Trump is a “protectionist” when it comes to trade. He also listed off the immigration bill for border security when Biden was vice president.
Flake admitted, “there will be a lot of things” he will not agree on with Biden, but he said the Democratic presidential candidate “will stand up and have reverence for our institutions of government.”
Partial transcript as follows:
MACCALLUM: I’m just trying to figure out in terms of actual policy what it is that you really like in Joe Biden as a lifelong Republican. You pushed for the First Step Act. We are going to hear from Alice Johnson. President Trump was actually able to sign that into law. We had eight years of the Obama-Biden administration and they did not take action on that. So why support Joe Biden over President Trump when that was clearly something that was very important to you?
FLAKE: Well, if that were the only thing, certainly President Trump pushed that. I applauded for it. I voted for it. I voted for that while I was in the Senate. I’m glad to support the First Step Act. Joe Biden has been supportive of criminal justice reform for as long or longer than that —
MACCALLUM: But he has in for eight years with President Obama and it never happened, is my point.
FLAKE: You bet. But things happened during that time also that haven’t happened during the Trump administration. We passed the bipartisan immigration bill that appropriated $40 billion for border security. That was when President Obama and Joe Biden were in the White House. We did that in the Senate. So, there are different policies, and I’ve been supportive of many of the things that the president has pushed: tax reform, regulatory reform —
MACCALLUM: But you just don’t like his character.
FLAKE: It’s not just that. You know, Republicans have traditionally been for free trade. The president is very much a protectionist. The Republicans have stood for strong American leadership across the globe.
MACCALLUM: Well, he pushed for a better trade deal with China, which I think got a lot of broad appeal in terms of finally pushing back on China which is really never happened —
FLAKE: But before doing that, he canceled —
MACCALLUM: — over all of the decades. Go ahead.
FLAKE: Before he did that, he canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
FLAKE: The Trans-Partnership Partnership if anything would have helped keep China in check by allowing countries, particularly in Southeast Asia to go somewhere else for their trade.
MACCALLUM: All right. Before I let you go, are you in favor of school choice?
FLAKE: You bet. You bet. Yes.
MACCALLUM: Yes. So, Joe Biden says he’s not in favor of that. He wouldn’t — he would not want any public —
FLAKE: There will be a lot of things, no doubt, that I would disagree with President Biden on. But he will stand up and have reverence for our institutions of government. But there is something to be said for that. And I think he will preserve the public space where we Republicans and Democrats can go back to disagreeing about policy and not just this kind of rank tribalism that we see today.
Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent