It's #NeverAgainTrump for exiting GOP Sens. Jeff Flake, Bob Corker

"We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal", Flake said.

"Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as 'Tell it like it is, ' when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified", the senator said.

"Here's the bottom line", Flake told the Arizona Republic.

Talking principle rather than politics, Flake said on the Senate floor, "We must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it, because it does".

"I have children and grandchildren to answer to". I know the president wants to get tax reform.

In a speech on the Senate floor that appears aimed at President Donald Trump, Flake criticized the "flagrant disregard of truth and decency" that he says is undermining American democracy. John McCain, R-Arizona, should resign from his seat because of his brain cancer diagnosis.

Corker said, "someone of this mentality as president of the United States is something that is I think debasing to our country".

Flake has been a frequent critic of Trump since the 2016 campaign and, as a target of right-wing frustration himself, had been seen as especially vulnerable to a GOP primary challenge in 2018.

If there's hope for the more conservative anti-Trump forces, it came at the end of Mr Flake's speech, when the first senator to clap - the one whose applause prompted his colleagues to follow suit - was Ben Sasse.

But mainstream Republicans in Arizona don't believe Ward can beat Rep. Krysten Sinema, who is running in her primary as the only well-known Democratic candidate.

"The voters of these individual senators' states are speaking in pretty loud volumes". I think that they were not likely to be re-elected.

The president is seeking to build consensus around proposed tax cuts.

"It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end", he said.

Trump has previously attacked Flake as "weak" and "ineffective" and has derided Corker's height while labeling him "incompetent".

Before he was elected to the Senate in 2012, Mr. Flake served six terms in the House, breaking a three-term pledge after he concluded he needed to keep fighting to trim the federal deficit and pass broad legalization for illegal immigrants.

Mr Trump rounded on Senator Corker in a series of tweets, and the war of words was on, playing out on television and social media in real time. It comes as Trump has sparred with GOP senators such as John McCain of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, as well as with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - though McConnell and Trump had a joint press conference last week to try to smooth things over. GOP voters are in an anti-incumbent mood, heightened by the failure of Republicans in Washington to make good on seven years of promises to scrap President Barack Obama's health care law.

The purge of "establishment" Republicans like Senator Corker and Senator Flake only helps the remaking of the GOP as a populist, nationalist party drawing the support of the white working class away from the Democrats.

"It's unfortunate that our nation finds itself in this place", he said, expressing regret for supporting Mr Trump's presidential bid and saying he would not vote for him again. He said that he and others in the party had attempted to intervene with Trump over the months, sometimes at the behest of White House officials, but "he's obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president".

  • Rogelio Becker