PHOENIX — President Donald Trump faces a decision on Tuesday evening with profound implications for his already strained relationship with the GOP: whether to attack a vulnerable Republican senator on his home turf.
White House officials won’t say exactly what’s on Trump’s agenda when he holds a campaign-style rally here. But it’s widely expected he will go after GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, a loud critic of the president who recently published an anti-Trump manifesto, “Conscience of a Conservative.”
Whatever he says about Flake, the president is clearly determined to send a message. State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, who is weighing a primary challenge against Flake, will join the president on Air Force One on Tuesday, according to two people briefed on the plans. And the daughter of another potential GOP candidate, former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham, is slated to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
In the days leading up to Trump’s Arizona trip, Senate GOP leaders have implicitly warned Trump that attacking Flake, who faces a treacherous path to reelection, would only serve to further rupture his relationship with a congressional GOP wing that he’s grown increasingly isolated from in recent weeks. It came after Trump, in a tweet after the Phoenix event was announced, called Flake “toxic.” The president had earlier threatened to spend as much as $10 million to take out the incumbent Republican.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Majority Whip John Cornyn, and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner all declared that Flake had their full support……