Senator Jeff Flake On President Trump: I Will Continue To Work With Him When I Think He’s Right And Challenge Him When I Think He’s Wrong

Audio clip:

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) joined Brian Kilmeade to talk about the President's speech last night in his home state of Arizona and the specific shots he fired across the Senators bow. "For my part, I will continue to work with him when I think he's right and when I think he's wrong, I will fight against it." When Brian asked about being primaried Senator Flake said "The President is going to do what the President is going to do. I can't control what's happening on the other side. I'll just run a strong campaign."

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Jeff Flake on President Trump calling him out last night

(President Trump SOT) And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who's weak on borders, weak on crime, so I won't talk about him (BOOING) Nobody wants me to talk about him. Nobody knows who the hell he is And now -- see, I haven't' mentioned any names. So now, everybody's happy.

(Kilmeade) Is everybody happy? Let's talk to the guy who's name was not mentioned but he was brought up, Senator Jeff Flake. Are you happy Senator?

(Flake) Laughter...I'm starting to feel like that character from Harry Potter the person who should not be named.

(Kilmeade) Right. Did you watch last night.

(Flake) I did. I just finished events in Tucson all day and driving up so I was able to listen to it.

(Kilmeade) And

(Flake) Well I saw that part where he talked obviously about me and about Senator McCain and you know I'm just focused on working for the state and doing my day job.

(Kilmeade) And your trying to get six more years at it after being a Congressman. He tweeted this out this morning. Phoenix crowd last night was amazing - a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border! Where do you stand on both?

(Flake) Let me talk about the boarders for a second. The legislation I've supported all along. It's included big improvements on border infrastructure in fact SB-744 which we passed out of the Senate in 2013 would have included 700 miles of fencing. It was nice to see the President go down to the border and actually talk about what's going on at the border to the extent that we had walls, we've actually replaced those with fences. Yuma where he went yesterday has a double layered fence and has worked quite well there. So in terms of border infrastructure what I have supported have been significant improvements. Doubling of the border patrol. I was down on the border with ranchers two weeks ago. We are fortunately in a better position now, border crossings are at about a 30 year low which is due to a number of factors. One is stepped up enforcement, two a better economy in Mexico and we hope that continues.

(Kilmeade) Would you also give the President credit for sending the message the magnet that brings you here...

(Flake) Yes

(Kilmeade) Is off and "Sanctuary Cities" are no longer a sanctuary?

(Flake) You bet, You bet that message matters. We saw that when the message in the last administration was that it in many ways it was a faulty message but it spread particular in Honduras and El Salvador and Guatemala that kids could come free and be united parents or relatives then we saw an influx of that so yes message matters certainly.

(Kilmeade) So Senator last night capacity crowd there maybe it was there to send a message that hey this President might not be your favorite President but the people of Arizona like this guy. Did you get that message?

(Flake) Well I get the message that there are certain policies that I like that Arizona likes. Obviously an emphasis on border security is something Arizona likes and needs. Tax policies, tax reform we desperately need it. We desperately need healthcare reform. We've got to appeal and replace Obama-Care. A lot of Arizonans are hurting they lost insurance with Obama-Care. Some gained it a lot lost it as well. So there are many things, the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, I was pleased to work with the President on that. He's appointed a great national security team that I've supported him on. So for my part I'll continue to support the President, work with him, when I think he's right and challenge him when I think he is going in the wrong direction.

Senator Flake on if Dave Bossie is right that his book caused the rift between him and President Trump

(Kilmeade) Your book is out. It's a best seller a lot of it is against the rise of what's happened to the Republican party. You really say Newt Gingrich stated the heading the Republican Party in the wrong direction and then Donald Trump took it the rest of the way. That's what David Bossie said really put the schism between you two. Listen, cut 23.

(David Bossie Sot) Senator Flake makes himself in this book to be some conservative leader and he fundamentally is not and that is all I am saying is Jeff Flake is somebody whose vote the president needs, who the president wants to work with and has wanted to work with up until this book and I think that's really what has changed the dynamic.

(Kilmeade) Does he have a point? The book put a permanent rift between you guys?

(Flake) No, no , the talk earlier long before the book came out the stories in Politico and others that he was meeting with people at the White House to challenge me or that he had committed ten million of his own money, that was all long before the book. So with a book I do mention that I do think the party has given in to the politics of anger and that started long before Donald Trump became president. That's been a trend where we as a party unfortunately during the early 2000's gave up the mantel fiscal conservatism. The party on the whole spent like drunken sailors. so this prescription drug benefits time more bloated appropriation bills and the most egregious of all is just corrupting spending like earmarking and then when we couldn't be the party of fiscal discipline anymore we became the party of you know to go against flag burning or go for the wedge issues and give in to the politics of anger and I do not think it's right for the party to demonize the other side or the call our democratic colleagues losers are clowns.We're going to need votes we're going to need to do tax reform we're going to need cooperation if not the democratic leadership at least certain democrats and yet it's difficult to do that when we're calling them clowns or losers so that's mostly about what the book is about is how a conservative is conservative not just in policy but in comportment and demeanor and manners and I think we have a long way to go there.

(Kilmeade) I do think that it even democrats would it when you look at Harry Reid and it's horrible things he said about George Bush when you see the way Schumer portrays this president many now are saying that he's unhinged i think that if you are going to call the republic your own party which is tough for you to do this way I think you have to say on the other side

(Flake) Oh you bet you bet. This really got started big in a big way when George W Bush won the contested election in 2000 and a certain democrats including Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid just wouldn't accept that outcome and so they started blocking the president's executive calendar, his supreme court pick, his other court appointments and then it's just devolves into both parties going after each other and there's plenty of blame to go around. I can tell you if we want to achieve conservative ends particularly getting hold of our debt and our deficit and on the fiscal conservative side we've got to sit down with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle because no one party will take the full political blame, we've got to share the risk and that doesn't happen if we're demonizing the other side and ascribing the worst motives to our opponents and that's where we have got to improve.

Jeff Flake on potentially trying to work with President Trump

(Kilmeade) Do you have any interest in just saying hey can we have a détente and try to get our way forward with the president and if so how would you go about doing it?

(Flake) We don't have a formal sit down, the president knows that I'll be with him on were achieving conservative ends. On tax policy I've met with the White House, just spoke to treasury secretary the other day. I was in the White House the other day with regard to honoring the capital policemen in this Scalise shooting. With regard to health care I was with the White House and worked with Don McGahn others with the appointment of Gorsuch.

Jeff Flake on President Trump endorsing his primary opponent Dr. Kelli Ward

(Kilmeade) Senator, do you worry about the President endorsing one of your primary opponents?

(Flake) The President is going to do what the President wants to do. For me I just focused on one, my day job and two, building a winning campaign and so I can't control what goes on with the other side but all I know is I'll have a strong campaign and we knew all along we would have a challenging environment in Arizona. It's always that way, I've had tough primaries, I've had tough general elections.