Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday that he’s eager to work with President Trump on border security and a wide range of issues, extending a olive branch after Mr. Trump thrashed him on his home turf in Arizona.
“We need a secure border and I look forward to working with him on that,” the Arizona Republican said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” with the caveat that fencing is better in some places that the border wall Mr. Trump has vowed to build.
He insisting that he and Mr. Trump are not enemies and downplayed his concern over a pro-Trump primary challenger when he runs for reelection next year.
“There are a lot of things I agree with the president on,” Mr. Flake said, naming the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, deregulation and tax reform as examples.
“Tax policy — I do believe the president’s instincts are good on that,” he said.
Mr. Flake has been an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump since the 2016 presidential race and recently penned a book, “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle,” that warns Mr. Trump’s brand of populism threats to destroy the conservative movement and Republican Party.
Upping the ante, Mr. Trump has encouraged a primary challenge to Mr. Flake in the midterm election next year, which is an unprecedented move by a president against one of his party’s incumbent senators.
The president hammered Mr. Flake at a rally Tuesday in Phoenix for being “weak” on border security, and he hit him again Wednesday in a tweet as weak on crime and the border.
Mr. Flake said he does have policy differences with Mr. Trump and concerns about his tone.
“There are areas I disagree with the president on, significantly on trade. NAFTA has been good for Arizona. I hope we can modernize the agreement but keep it in place,” he said.
He said he didn’t know why he had problems getting along with Mr. Trump.
“I will vote with the president when I believe he is right and I will challenge him when I believe he is wrong,” he said. “That is what I have done with every president, Republican or Democrat. I didn’t always agree with George W. Bush. I voted against the prescription drug benefit or No Child Left Behind. But I worked with him on most things. I think that is what Arizona’s voters expect me to do.”
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