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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Trump hits back at Republican critics in senate

On Twitter he painted senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker as outliers in what is otherwise a 'love fest' between him and other party lawmakers

US president Donald Trump talks with reporters as he departs the Oval Office for Dallas on October 25, 2017. Carlos Barria / Reuters
US president Donald Trump talks with reporters as he departs the Oval Office for Dallas on October 25, 2017. Carlos Barria / Reuters

US president Donald Trump hit back at critics within his own Republican party on Wednesday, painting them as outliers in what is otherwise a "love fest" between him and allied lawmakers.

A day after Republican senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker described Mr Trump as having a "flagrant disregard" for truth and decency and of "debasing" the nation, the combative president shot back.

Trying to forestall a wider party backlash, Mr Trump said Mr Flake and Mr Corker had decided to resign from politics because they could not be reelected.

"The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected. Now act so hurt & wounded!" Mr Trump tweeted, hours after meeting Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

"Jeff Flake, with an 18% approval rating in Arizona, said 'a lot of my colleagues have spoken out.' Really, they just gave me a standing O!"

"The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!" he added.

Many Republicans privately express grave misgivings about Mr Trump's behaviour in office, but remain publicly supportive.

They see his presidency as the best way to enact long-standing party goals like tax reform and cutting the size of government.

The White House has worked hard to keep the party rank and file focused on those targets.

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"Working hard on the biggest tax cut in US history. Great support from so many sides. Big winners will be the middle class, business & JOBS," Mr Trump also tweeted Wednesday.

But his ascendency has also led to a battle for the soul of the Republican party, with establishment conservatives struggling to stop an insurgency from the more populist and nationalist wing of the party.