Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called his own party "toast" while attending a Friday town hall event in Mesa, referring to Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and President Donald Trump.
Flake was hosting the event at aerospace company GECO, fielding questions from employees about the tax reform bill currently in Congress, as well as a question from Mesa Mayor John Giles about Flake possibly running for president in 2020 against Donald Trump.
After the hour-long discussion ended, Flake stepped off the stage and into the audience. That's when Giles walked up to the senator. Flake was still wearing a microphone on his lapel, and while sound to the speakers had been muted, the audio feed continued to TV cameras at the back of the room.
"...[if we] become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump; we are toast," Flake said.
KGUN9's sister station KNXV's camera started to roll mid-sentence, Flake's office tells us the senator used the word "if we" before our cameras started. The video does not prove this either way, but the original version of this story did not include this information.
"And I am not throwing smoke at you, but you are the guy," Giles responded. "Just for fun, think about how much fun it would be, just to be the foil, you know, and point out what an idiot this guy [Trump] is."
Moments later, a staff member for the event walked over to Flake and pointed to his microphone, clearly catching the lawmaker by surprise.
Flake has publicly sparred with President Trump in the past, and in a blistering speech on the Senate floor last month he announced he would not be running for re-election. Flake didn't mention Trump by name, but clearly was directing his remarks at the president and his administration.
Giles was elected as Mesa's mayor in August 2014 and re-elected two years later.
ABC15 reached out to the offices of both Flake and Giles for comment. Sen. Flake's office said they had nothing additional to add. We spoke with the office of Mayor Giles, and they released the following statement addressing only his statements about Moore.
“As a life-long conservative Republican, I am troubled when candidates like Roy Moore send the wrong message about my party’s ethics and policies. We need more people like Jeff Flake in the US Senate, not Roy Moore.”