This article first appeared in the Washington Examiner.
White House advisors are already looking to the 2020 reelection campaign and expectations are high that President Trump will face a primary challenge.
A top advisor told Secrets that the West Wing expects Ohio Gov. John Kasich to run again, offering his moderate credentials as an alternative to Trump, who criticized him at a fundraiser this week.
And Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake floated a bid during a discussion with students of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Serviceat the school’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
Flake, who is retiring and has substantial disagreements with Trump, told the Institute’s Executive Director Mo Elleithee:
“If President Trump decides to run for a second term, and all the energy in the Democratic Party right now is is on the left, the far left, either (Sens.) Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and if the Democrats nominate somebody on their left, and we nominate somebody who is, right now, on our far right, there’s got to be a huge swath of voters in the middle looking for something else. I’ve always thought that time for an independent might be in the far future, it may not be that far. Now who that will be, we don’t know. And I do think that there will be a Republican challenge to the president as well. Somebody who just gets out there, probably with no hope of winning, but just to remind Republicans what we used to stand for, limited government, economic freedom, free trade, pro-immigration. And so I think you’re going to see a very exciting election period coming up.”
And he added with a broad smile, “Where we’ll be? I can’t talk about it, my wife’s here.”
Elleithee sized up the answer this way: “Let the record reflect he deflected that question.”