Joe Walsh, an ex-lawmaker from Illinois, a conservative radio talk show host, and a former Trump supporter announced on Sunday that he will challenge the president for the Republican Party’s 2020 nomination.
Walsh made the announcement on ABC’s This Week, telling host George Stephanopoulos, “I’m going to run for president.”
“George, no surprise, we’ve got a guy in the White House who’s unfit, completely unfit, to be president, and it stuns me that nobody’s stepped up. Nobody in the Republican Party stepped up, because I’ll tell you what, George, everybody believes in the Republican Party…that he’s unfit,” Walsh said.
Lately, Walsh has been a fierce critic of Donald Trump on Twitter and in other media, joining only a handful of Republicans who are speaking out publicly against the white supremacist in the White House.
On Walsh’s new campaign website, he acknowledged the steps that go into running for president—such as establishing an exploratory committee, hiring speech writers, and contracting image consultants—but that’s in normal times, he said, and “these are not conventional times, these are urgent times.”
“So, the hell with all those conventional things, today I’m declaring my candidacy for president of the United States, because it’s time to be brave. We have someone in the White House who we all know is unfit, someone who lies virtually every time he opens his mouth,” Walsh said.
On This Week, Stephanopoulos pointed out that Trump has an extremely high approval rating within the GOP, to which Walsh repeated that “somebody needs to step up.” Walsh also called Trump a “child.”
The thing is, it’s impossible to disagree with Walsh on any of his criticisms of Trump lately. But it’s also impossible to ignore or forget who Walsh is—a Tea Party Republican—and what he’s said and done in the recent past.
Like this, for example:
Or his racist birtherism and anti-Muslim attacks against President Barack Obama:
Happy New Year to you, too, Joe! Or his tweeting of the N-word:
All of this was just a few years ago. (The Washington Post has compiled more of Walsh’s tweets here.)
The one-term congressman’s defense is that he had helped to create Trump and therefore must now work to stop him, regardless of his past.
In a New York Times Op-Ed earlier this month, Walsh said he regrets making derogatory comments against Obama and others. “On more than one occasion, I questioned Mr. Obama’s truthfulness about his religion. At times, I expressed hate for my political opponents. We now see where this can lead. There’s no place in our politics for personal attacks like that, and I regret making them,” he wrote.
He also laid out his case against Trump:
Eight years later, Mr. Trump has increased the deficit more than $100 billion year over year — it’s now nearing $1 trillion — and we hear not a word of protest from my former Republican colleagues. He abuses the Constitution for his narcissistic trade war. In private, most congressional Republicans oppose the trade war, but they don’t say anything publicly. But think about this: Mr. Trump’s tariffs are a tax increase on middle-class Americans and are devastating to our farmers. That’s not a smart electoral strategy.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh responded to Walsh’s announcement with a one-word reply to ABC News: “Whatever.”
Trump, who currently is in France attending a G7 summit, has not responded to Walsh’s announcement, although we expect a Twitter attack is imminent. In 2015, Trump quoted Walsh saying his conservative radio show would be the “highest rated show ever” and that Trump “is a marketing genius.”
Walsh is the second Republican to announce a presidential run in 2020, after former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld announced his campaign two weeks ago.