Three Men And A Maybe: Can Ex-Foes Trump And McCain, Flake Get Along?

Then-candidate Donald Trump at an Oct. 29 rally in Phoenix, just weeks after both Arizona senators, Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, said they would not vote for him to be president. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)

By Allie Bice | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Of the 20 states with two Republican senators, only one state had both of those senators publicly declare they would not vote for their party’s presidential nominee this year – Arizona.

But political experts said the state should not worry about retribution from President-elect Donald Trump for the well-publicized squabbling between him and Arizona Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain. They need each other if they hope to get anything done, even in a GOP-dominated Washington.

“After an election, a politician will need to moderate their message because they do need to be able to govern, and governing is different than campaigning,” said Lori Poloni-Staudinger, chair of Northern Arizona University’s School of Politics and International Affairs.

“He is going to need them, and he is going to need their support,” Poloni-Staudinger said of Trump’s future relations with Congress.

That was echoed by Richard Herrera, associate professor at Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies, who said the president-elect will mostly likely work with Congress. Americans have seen his “willingness to say something harsh, but also willingness to back off,” Herrera said.

That willingness to mend fences has already been seen in Trump’s meetings during the transition process with a parade of former adversaries.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, surgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have all made the trek to Trump Tower or Trump’s New Jersey golf resort. All were challengers in the crowded presidential primary field at one point, and not all immediately rallied to Trump’s side during the campaign.

Few were more vocal in their opposition to Trump than Flake, who said during the campaign that, given “the positions he (Trump) has taken and the one and tenor of his campaign,” he could not vote for the GOP nominee, according to published reports. After the October release of a 2005 recording in which Trump is heard making offensive and lewd comments about women surfaced, Flake tweeted that “America deserves far better” than Trump and called on Trump to withdraw from the race.

In a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers over the summer, Trump said he was well aware of Flake’s criticisms and that he could ratchet up pressure against the senator who had “been very critical of me,” according to published reports.

McCain gave tepid support throughout the campaign to Trump – who made headlines last summer by belittling McCain’s war record. When pressed, McCain said repeatedly that he would support the party’s nominee, without naming Trump.

That changed with the release of the October tape, which drove McCain to say he could not vote for Trump that and his wife would instead “write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be president.”

Both McCain and Flake congratulated Trump on his victory, although Flake noted that he was eating crow as he offered his congratulations. Both have had praise for some Trump Cabinet choices, with McCain praising the selection of retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis for Defense secretary and Flake saying he looks forward to supporting Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be attorney general.

But neither has cozied up to Trump, and McCain has spoken out against several of his policies already, warning against warmer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, criticizing a proposal to remove National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and vowing there would be legal action if the new administration tried to reinstate the practice of “water-boarding” prisoners.

Trump has been conciliatory in the wake of the election, with kind words for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and for President Barack Obama. But he also has a reputation as someone who settles scores, and the day after the election a campaign aide referenced an “enemies list” of those who did not support Trump in the general election.

That comment came from Trump’s director of African American outreach, Omarosa Manigault, a former contestant on his reality television show “The Apprentice.”

Herrera said it’s “hard to know how much influence she (Manigault) has on the decision-making by the president,” but that an enemies list would “normal in one sense” for politicians to keep tabs on the political world.

Multiple requests for comment from McCain and Flake were not returned.

But Poloni-Staudinger said it all comes back to the fact that they will have to work together.

“They might be put on this enemies list, but the president does need to work with Congress,” she said.


  1. I did not vote for Mcain in the primaries i cannot believe voters in my district have not seen that he is trully not a conservative. Laziness i guess. As for idiot, arrogant Flake i will do what i can to get him out in two years. “We need to wash the flake out of our district “

  2. Flake and Graham and Durbin, hoping to ram thru an Amnesty Bill that Trump would not be able to overturn. No I don’t think they will get along. They certainly don’t get along with this deplorable. I want them all out!
    Then we start again the legal way, and the heck with Mexico and what they want!

  3. Donald Trump endorsed John McCain, sealing his win against Kelli Ward in the primary. That made conservatives very sad. We knew what would happen next. Sure enough, after winning the primary (thanks to Trump) McCain, who has bashed women more and been far more profane than Trump put his hypocritical righteousness hat on and slammed Trump. This made conservatives want to puke their guts out.

    Of course we all know that McCain simply hates Trump because McCain is an amnesty RINO GOPe idiot and Trump will never go along with his foolishness.

  4. mclame and his twin mcflake both are waste of time politician. The only reason mcjuan was able to win was his owners and their $$ kept the lady in the shadows. Only reason these guys win is that their OWNERS have the $$ to push them on and the dems are incapable of running good candidates in this state. If there had been a viable dem this past election I would probably voted for them, but no they again run one who has a poor track record of doing anything.

    As I have said before the reason guys like the mclame brothers are against trump is mainly because he cannot be bought like the ‘professional’ politicians can be. His cabinet also is wealthier than many of the buyers and sellers so that leaves them out in the cold. Lets hope that he is successful and drains the swamp!

  5. All of Flakes family holdings have will soon lose value As the Babbitt’s in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona . Seems the New Administration won’t allow exclusive land ownership to those two by the fedes taking developable land off the grid that competes with theirs.

  6. McCain will oppose Trump every time he gets the chance. It will once again allow him to be “The Maverick” and let him feed his overinflated ego by being the darling of the media.ark my words.

  7. One can only hope that Trump will chose his time and place to put little Johnnie and McFlakie in their place. Both of these idiots typify what is wrong in DC and please don’t forget that McCain is in this for no one but himself and his ego. Its past time for him to be put out to pasture in Sedona but the dumbass voters didn’t see fit to do that and gave him 6 more years. One can only hope that Trump will chose his time and place to kick them both to the curb. BTW, can the republicans run a real candidate against McFlake in 18? One can only hope.

  8. the world direction and time of change is occurring in front of us with Obama / Kerry Israel measure in the UN – these are things that will change our immediate future. The UN I’d say be gone very soon from NYNY, to land in Rome the new Roman empire rebuilt needs a world HQ and speaking place – will Obama follow the UN with Kerry to that location? Interesting prospect – it certainly seems he has the inclination to try to remain in some global power position. The trash he leaves behind with Israel and Trump will divide the nation of Israel. It puts in the equation the division of Israel where Judah will become the land of Palestine – Jerusalem and the temple divided – exactly what is need to have to have the “Abomination of Desolation” prophecy take place – this event signaling the beginning of the last seven years before the return of Christ – 3.5 years of peace – 3.5 years of the tribulation ending in the battle of Armageddon and the return of Christ. Maranatha!!! The final pieces of this puzzle are falling into place for the near term future. Praise be to God!

    • Yes John the PC Sphincter Police seem to be always present with the “awaiting moderation” delay in posting comments. I’m not sure if really has more to do with the use of certain words and phrases over content, but either way it’s getting to become excessively annoying.


  9. I do not think that they can get along as McLame and the Flake are actually RINO’s. Why the people in their precinct’s keep voting in these ashwholes is far beyond normal thinking or common sense.

    If Trump is good a one thing, it is dealing with EVIL people, and he has been pretty successful at getting his way. As for toning it down some. I do not agree with that, and if politicians block what he tries to do for “we the people”, if I were him I would let the people know who exactly is doing it, and tell them to vote for someone else come their next run for that office.

  10. It’s funny how Flake and mistake both rhyme.
    But what’s in a name? See you at the polls Jeff…..


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