“Just when you think [Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump] can stoop no lower, he does,” Arizona Senator Jeff Flake tweeted out after news of Trump’s call to block all Muslims from entering the U.S. made headlines.
"Foolish," Arizona Senator John McCain said about the statement.
In the aftermath of what many call Trump’s most inflammatory comment to date, Arizona’s Republican U.S. senators are part of the large bi-partisan group of politicians and leaders around the country who have condemned the remarks, though neither has issued the strongest statement.
Neither McCain nor Flake responded to requests for comment.
Earlier this week, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what the hell is going on” and received a raucous response.
“We have no choice. We have no choice,” he added over the loud applause.
Trump later added in a written statement: “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
Thank you to the great crowd at the #USSYorktown in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Listen to the the response from the crowd to my latest proposal - and let me know if you agree with these PATRIOTS?Posted by Donald J. Trump on Monday, December 7, 2015
His statements have been sharply condemned by other presidential candidates — “Donald Trump is unhinged,” Jeb Bush tweeted; “Trump’s overreaction is as dangerous as President Obama’s under-reaction,” Carly Fiorina said
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the GOP needed to distance itself from Trump, and even the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said Trump’s words don’t represent the values of the country.
In an interview with Talking Points Memo, both Arizona senators balked at the prospect of taking the White House’s advice and rejecting Trump:
"I think the Republicans are best to determine who the Republican nominee is," Flake said. "We don't need to take cues from the Democrats."
McCain’s reaction was snarkier:: "I very rarely listen to the dictates of the White House…Thank you very much for the advice, though. I appreciate that."
While McCain and Flake haven’t issued official statements about the remark, in an interview with the Associated Press, McCain admitted that he had no idea whether this comment would finally end of Trump’s political hurrah:
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“I thought long ago that things he said would hurt his prospects,” the senior senator said, “and he continues to go up.”
Trump remains the Republican front-runner and has boastfully tweeted that a new USA Today poll found that 68 percent of his supporters would vote for him if he renounced the Republican Party and ran as an independent.
Read Trump's Official Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration — a policy he continues to defend: