US President keeps focus on retiring senators, who had ‘zero chance of being elected’

Two of Trump’s early morning Twitter posts Wednesday were about Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Two of Trump’s early morning Twitter posts Wednesday were about Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who have announced they would not run for re-election.

“They had zero chance of being elected,” Trump said. “Now act so hurt & wounded.”

Flake announced his retirement Tuesday. The senator, who has been outspoken against Trump for months, is the fourth prominent Republican to issue a stinging and recent rebuke against Trump’s presidency and style of governing.

Senate Republicans cannot afford to lose any support from their own party if they want to pass significant tax legislation that the president has promised for months.

Flake told CNN on Wednesday that he had decided not to run because he did not think he could be re-elected in a Republican primary race in Arizona. Flake would have faced Kelli Ward, a far-right former Arizona state senator.

“I couldn’t run the kind of race that I would be proud of and win in a Republican primary at this time,” Flake told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday. “The politics in that way has changed. You can be conservative on policy and it doesn’t matter, it seems, as much as being with the president or not criticizing him, even if you think he’s wrong.”

Corker would have been a heavy favorite for re-election in Republican-tilted Tennessee. The senator has said Trump had repeatedly encouraged him to run again and even volunteered to come down for an early rally to ward off any potential challengers.

Corker has become a favorite target of Trump’s Twitter attacks since the senator criticized the president’s remarks after a white nationalist rally turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. Corker has called Trump’s White House an “adult day care center.”

Both Corker and Flake have said that some of their colleagues have privately expressed similar concerns about Trump.

“Privately, a number of my colleagues have expressed concern about the direction of our politics and the behavior of the president,” Flake told CNN. “I think in the coming months you’ll have more people stand up.”

The president said that Corker and Flake are outliers and that he received a standing ovation during Tuesday’s lunch, which was closed to the public.

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