But, in a candid, Capitol Hill interview with TPM, Flake offered what he has all campaign season, honesty and insight into what it is like to be one of the few elected Republicans in Washington willing to call out his own party's nominee for president.
"I am in a position to do it," Flake said. "I'm not up for re-election. ... I'm the first to wonder if I would do the same thing if I were up for re-election. I'd like to think I would, but I don't know."
In a campaign cycle when the Republican Party has bent, flipped and tied itself into knots to validate their support for Trump, the typically congenial and restrained Flake has emerged on Capitol Hill as kind of GOP conscience, warning his party that their blind allegiance to Trump may cost the party in the future. While Flake's colleagues briskly bypass the Capitol press corps, Flake has sometimes reluctantly, but consistently been willing to call Trump what he is: a liability.
"When he made the kind of statements he's made regarding minorities, women, POWs, others, somebody has to stand up and call him out," Flake said. "Republican have a tough time building a coalition that can win general elections. We've lost the last two. We cannot afford to go out of our way to offend groups that should be part of our coalition."
But, in reflecting on the last year, there was another factor weighing on Flake, his faith. As a Mormon, Flake said the church's teachings on refugees and its own history as a persecuted religion have made him especially concerned about Trump.[Talking Points Memo]
"Half of the church is overseas, abroad. A lot of immigrants who come here are members of the church as well and certainly treatment of refugees and just basic Christian principles I think, we try to be guided by that," Flake said. "When [Trump] talked about applying a religious test for immigrants or visitors to the country that strikes a pretty sour note."
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