(Politico: Louis Nelson) — Sen. Jeff Flake still is not ready to vote for Donald Trump, the Arizona Republican said Sunday morning, and the GOP presidential nominee’s rhetoric is so troubling that Flake said Hillary Clinton could turn his home state blue in November for the first time since 1996.
Flake has long been one of Trump’s most vocal Republican detractors, especially over the real estate mogul’s decision to attack fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain’s war record and because of his rhetoric on illegal immigration. But Flake has also left the door open to supporting Trump, albeit just a crack. As of now, Flake said he just cannot find his way to backing the Manhattan billionaire.
“I would not vote for Hillary Clinton, and, as of now, I would still not vote for Donald Trump,” Flake responded when asked by Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” who he would vote for if the election were held today. “I just know that I would like to vote for Donald Trump. It’s not comfortable to not support your nominee. But, given the positions that he has taken and the tone and tenor of his campaign, I simply can’t.”
Asked whether he would consider voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson for president, Flake said he might just write in a candidate’s name.
Flake was highly critical of the immigration speech Trump delivered last week in Phoenix, an address the senator said was simply a doubling-down of the rhetoric that pushed him away from the former reality TV star in the first place. He didn’t buy an assertion made earlier in the day, also on CNN, by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani that Trump’s speech had actually included a “very big opening for what will happen with the people who remain here in the United States after the criminals are removed and the border is secure.”