Republican Joe Walsh Will Challenge Trump in 2020 PrimaryRolling Stone — Peter Wade
Walsh, a talk-radio host, is the second Republican throw his hat in the ring, the first being former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who announced his bid back in April.
Walsh was asked by host George Stephanopoulos if he has decided to primary Trump, and the former Tea Party congressman said, “Yes. I’m going to run for president. No surprise. We’ve got a guy in the White House who is unfit, completely unfit to be president, and it stuns me that nobody stepped up.”
Stephanopoulos brought up the overwhelming Republican support Trump holds, “with just about every poll showing 80 percent support for the president.” Walsh believes that Trump’s popularity is partly due to a lack of an “alternative” and that “the country is sick of this guy’s tantrum.”
“They don’t have an alternative. I’m running because he’s unfit. Somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative. The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum,” Walsh said, adding, “He’s a child. Again, the litany, he lies every time he opens his mouth.”
Walsh went on to criticize Trump’s recent tweets about raising tariffs on China, which shook financial markets this past week.
“Look at what happened this week. The President of the United States is tweeting us into a recession. I can tell you, George, that most of my former colleagues up on the Hill, they agree privately with everything I’m saying,” Walsh said.
Stephanopoulos asked, if that is so, then why are practically no other Republicans speaking up? Walsh answered, “Because they’re scared to death.”
Stephanopoulos brought up a tweet from Trump’s other Republican primary challenger, William Weld. Weld wrote: “Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our country” and included the hashtag: #25thamendment, which allows for the removal of a sitting president. Stephanopoulos asked Walsh if the amendment should be invoked.
“It should be looked at,” Walsh said. “We’ve never had a situation like this. You can’t believe a word he says. And again, I don’t care about your politics, that should concern you. He’s nuts. He’s erratic. He’s cruel. He stokes bigotry. He’s incompetent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Walsh was questioned about his own support for Trump in the past and his trolling in conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama. Walsh said he has some regrets. “I said some ugly things about President Obama that I regret. And it’s difficult. I think that helped create Trump. And I feel responsible for that,” Walsh said.
It’s clear that Walsh knows he needs to do a mea culpa about his past statements in order to stand apart from Trump. But it’s hard to see how he can accomplish that, as Stephanopoulos then followed up by reading some of Walsh’s hate- and racism-filled comments from just two years ago.
Stephanopoulos said, “You did provide aid and comfort for the kind of things he was saying. You mentioned Obama. You called President Obama a Muslim, an enemy, a traitor. And you often spoke out on racial themes,” Stephanopoulos continued. “I want to show a couple of tweets that you had right there. Number one: ‘We lowered the bar for Obama. He was held to a lower standard because he was black.’”
“Then a few months after that… [you tweeted] ‘Senator Kamala Harris said something really dumb. Meh. If you’re black and a woman, you can say dumb things. Lowered bar.’ That’s kind of textbook racism and sexism,” Stephanopoulos said.
Walsh then went on to say that a Trump presidency has made him “reflect” on those type of statements and that he has apologized for them. “I’m baring my soul with you right now on national TV. We have a guy in the White House who’s never apologized for anything he’s done or said. I think it’s a weakness not to apologize. I have. I helped create Trump. There’s no doubt about that, the personal, ugly politics. I regret that. And I’m sorry for that,” Walsh said.
Walsh has a lot to prove if his aboutface is to be believed. He talks about what Trump’s presidency has shown him that has made him apologize. But another lesson of the Trump presidency could be how expansively gullible the American electorate might be. Is that Walsh’s real takeaway from what he’s witnessed over the past three years, and does he see his own opportunity to exploit it? His quick change or heart should make one wonder if his motives are truly authentic.