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Trump punches back at Flake and Corker, claims a ‘love fest’ of support in Senate

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is interviewed at the Russell Senate Office Building on Oct. 24. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
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President Trump on Wednesday defended himself against the extraordinary criticism leveled by two Republican senators, insisting that support on Capitol Hill for his presidency amounts to “a love fest” and accusing the senators of acting “so hurt & wounded.”

Trump was responding to comments by Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who said Tuesday that Trump was unfit for office and warned that his actions were degrading and dangerous to the country.

Both men have announced they are not running for reelection in 2018, and Trump portrayed them as sore losers.

The president tweeted Wednesday morning: “The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected. Now act so hurt & wounded!”

In a second tweet, Trump sought to prove that Flake and Corker are outliers by characterizing his closed-door luncheon with Republican senators on Tuesday at the Capitol as “a love fest.”

“The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!” Trump tweeted.

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Trump's tweets came as Flake continued to excoriate Trump — from his behavior and temperament to his rhetoric and policies — in interviews on television morning shows, elaborating upon his speech on the Senate floor Tuesday and his op-ed, titled “Enough,” in The Washington Post.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said on Oct. 24 that he will not seek reelection in 2018. Here are the highlights from his speech. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

Flake said on CNN that he thinks more of his Republican colleagues in the Senate will speak out about Trump in the days and weeks to come.

“I think we’ve hit the tipping point,” Flake said. “At some point, just the weight of it just causes people to change and to say, 'I can’t take this anymore.' I hope that we’ve reached that point.”

More than an hour after the initial tweet, Trump singled out Flake, citing a poll released in August by Public Policy Policy that placed the senator's approval rating at 18 percent. The poll — among 704 Arizona voters — found 31 percent of respondents said they would support Flake if a midterm election was held when the survey was taken, compared to 47 percent who indicated support for a generic Democratic opponent.