WASHINGTON ― Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Sunday said that Donald Trump risks losing Arizona, a longstanding Republican stronghold, over his inflammatory comments about immigrants and immigration.
When asked whether Hillary Clinton could win there, Flake responded, “Bill Clinton won Arizona. So yes, it’s possible.”
No Democrat has won the state in the 20 years since Bill Clinton’s victory in 1996. Mitt Romney won Arizona by 9 points in 2012.
“The statements he made out of the gate about those crossing the border being rapists and whatnot ― that doesn’t sit well,” Flake said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” referring to Trump. “And then to refer to a judge born in Indiana as a Mexican in a pejorative way ― you can’t expect to win Arizona when you make statements like that, and you offend a large and growing demographic needlessly.”
Flake also said that Trump should apologize to the family of Humayun Khan, an American soldier who was killed in 2004 during the Iraq War. Trump belittled the family after they gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention opposing his candidacy. Trump suggested that Khan’s mother, Ghazala, was not “allowed” to speak at the convention because of her religion. Ghazala Khan and her husband, Khizr, fired back afterward.
Flake has refused to endorse Trump for months over his anti-immigrant comments, but stopped short of saying he could never endorse the billionaire. On Sunday, he maintained this mantra, saying Trump could still win his support if he changed his policy platform and his “tone and tenor.”
Polls suggest that Flake is right about Trump’s vulnerability in Arizona. Several recent polls have Clinton close to Trump in the state, and some even show her ahead. HuffPost Pollster’s average of recent polling data shows Trump ahead by just one-tenth of a point ― 44.4 percent to 44.3 percent.
A Clinton victory in Arizona would signal a landslide for Democrats. Trump has to flip several states that Barack Obama won in 2012 to secure the presidency.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump
CORRECTION: This article previously stated that Trump needs to flip several states to secure a nomination, rather than the presidency itself.