WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday fired back at sharp criticism by Republican Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, claiming they decided not to seek re-election only because they have no chance to win, while touting his "love fest" with Republican senators.
The two senators will serve out the remaining 14 months of their terms but are unbound by the political burdens of running for reelection in 2018.
In his speech to announce his retirement on Tuesday, Flake condemned the nastiness of Republican politics in the United States under the Trump era, assailing a "flagrant disregard for truth or decency" and a "regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms."
Also on Tuesday, Corker exchanged a bitter war of words with the president via Twitter and TV outlets, calling Trump "an utterly untruthful president" "debasing" the United States. He has previously said the White House was an "adult day care center" and expressed concern that Trump could lead the country into "World War III."
"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!" Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
"The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!" the president said on Twitter.
"There is a sickness in our system - and it is contagious." Flake, one of the Senate's most prominent critics of Trump, wrote in an op-ed issued by The Washington Post on Wednesday, urging bipartisan lawmakers to "stand up and speak out."
"There may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party." Flake told The Arizona Republic ahead of his Tuesday speech on the Senate floor.
However, asked on Wednesday about Trump's claiming that he has only 18 percent approval rating in his home state Arizona, Flake admitted on CNN that it's "very difficult to be re-elected in the Republican Party right now, in Arizona in particular."
Meanwhile, Corker, who is a key vote on a tax overhaul as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, dismissed on Wednesday Trump's claim that he was retiring because he couldn't win re-election, telling CNN "there was no question" that when he chose not to run again for office that he was "in a dominant position."
Corker has repeatedly dismissed that Trump refused to support his reelection bid. Instead, the senator said the president asked him at least four times to reconsider his decision not to run.
Another leading Republican senator, John McCain, who was the 2008 GOP presidential candidate and promised not to run again during last year's campaign, also went after Trump in public last week, condemning that rising nationalism and isolationism have gone hand in hand in the Unites States under Trump's presidency.
Without mentioning Trump by name during his speech, McCain targeted Trump's leadership on the world stage and his "America First" slogan.
"To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems," McCain said, "is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."
Tensions between Trump and McCain simmered late last month when McCain, who has served in Congress since 1982, refused to support Trump's healthcare legislation aimed to repeal the Obamacare. As a result, Trump's bill derailed. Trump then said McCain's "no" vote was a "slap in the face" to Republicans.
The exchanges of attacks highlight the ongoing problems between Trump and establishment Republicans, which began during his 2016 presidential campaign, with much of the party turned off by Trump's controversial rhetoric, and what many in Congress see as his unpredictability, local analysts say.
Despite Republican control of the House, the Senate and the White House, Trump has had a tough time since he came to office in January and failed to have any significant legislation passed by the Congress.
The ongoing spats would further roil Republican hopes of keeping the party's 52-seat Senate majority in the 2018 midterm elections, local analysts predict.