by Jim Nintzel
Donald Trump’s private meeting Thursday with Senate Republicans — designed to foster greater party unity ahead of the national convention in Cleveland — grew combative as the presumptive presidential nominee admonished three senators who have been critical of his candidacy and predicted they would lose their reelection bids, according to two Republican officials with direct knowledge of the exchanges.So it's probably safe to take Flake off the VP shortlist.
Trump’s most tense exchange was with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been vocal in his concerns about the business mogul’s candidacy, especially his rhetoric and policies on immigration that the senator argues alienate many Latino voters and others in Arizona.
When Flake stood up and introduced himself, Trump told him, “You’ve been very critical of me.”
“Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake responded, according to two Republican officials.
Flake was referencing Trump’s comments last summer about the military service of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero because he was captured.
Flake told Trump that he wants to be able to support him — “I’m not part of the Never Trump movement,” the senator said — but that he remains uncomfortable backing his candidacy, the officials said.
Trump said at the meeting that he has yet to attack Flake hard but threatened to begin doing so. Flake stood up to Trump by urging him to stop attacking Mexicans. Trump predicted that Flake would lose his reelection, at which point Flake informed Trump that he was not on the ballot this year, the sources said.
Asked in a Senate hallway later about his exchange with Trump, Flake declined to elaborate.
“No, I’ll just leave it,” he told reporters, adding “my position remains, I want to support the nominee. I really do. I just can’t support him given the things that he’s said.”