“Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough,” Flake said in his floor speech and added that his critique of Trump was because he believed it was his “obligation” to do so, “as a matter and duty of conscience.”
According to The Washington Post, polls showed that the senator would overwhelmingly lose a primary election against a pro-Trump challenger, who he likely would have faced. Flake told The Washington Post that despite his support for the president’s policies and personnel decisions, he knew that his criticism of the president’s personality could have negative repercussions.
“I knew that when I spoke out at that time that I was out of step with a lot of the Republican primary voters, but I felt that I had to do it,” he explained.
While he hoped the “fever” would break, he acknowledged that it wouldn’t happen in time for his bid for re-election and in conjunction with other factors, decided he’d had enough of standing behind Trump’s behavior despite disagreeing with it.
“I couldn’t sleep at night having to embrace the president or condoning his behavior or being okay with some of his positions,” he told The Washington Post. “I just couldn’t do it — it was never in the cards.”
In July, Flake penned an op-ed for Politico in which he related his personal justification that responding to every tweet would leave “little time for anything else” to Noah deciding not to focus on the impending flood because it took up too much time.
“At a certain point, if one is being honest, the flood becomes the thing that is most worthy of attention,” he wrote. “At a certain point, it might be time to build an ark.”
In August, Flake published the book, “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle,” which CNN reported speculated Republicans won the House, Senate, and White House at the expense of risking “our institutions and our values.”