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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s most prominent GOP critics on Capitol Hill are days away from completing their Senate careers, raising the question of who — if anyone — will take their place as willing to publicly criticize a president who remains popular with nearly 9 in 10 Republican voters.
Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee engaged in a war of words with the president on myriad issues over the past 18 months, generating headlines and fiery tweets from a president who generally insists on getting the last word. Those battles put them on the outs with many in their own party, and they paid a price. Both decided to retire rather than take on a difficult re-election campaign.
Flake - Trump - Critic - Senate - Republicans
Flake was far and away Trump’s most consistent critic among Senate Republicans. Corker weighed in less often, but his description of the White House as an “adult day care center” rankled the president, who dubbed him “Liddle’ Bob Corker.” The feud continued as Corker headed for the exits, with Trump asserting that Corker’s promise to serve only two terms was not the real reason he retired. Rather, Corker “wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him,” Trump tweeted.
Corker replied: “Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall... #AlertTheDaycareStaff.”
Republican - Senator - Place - Chief - Agitator
For now, don’t expect any Republican senator to take their place as chief agitator when the new Congress convenes Thursday, said Rory Cooper, a GOP strategist who helped lead the “Never Trump PAC” during the 2016 Republican primary. He said that publicly criticizing the president makes Republican votes back home unhappy and earns the ire of the president. Meanwhile, Democratic voters and the media give them too little credit, he said.
“There is not an incentive structure for senators who disagree with or oppose the president to...
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