Joe Walsh: What to Know About the Latest Republican Running Against Trump in 2020

August 26, 2019, 3:24 PM UTC

It’s no longer just Democrats who are throwing their hats in the ring to challenge President Donald Trump. With Joe Walsh’s entry into the race on Sunday, there are now at least two Republicans who have their eyes set on the White House—former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld announced his candidacy in February.

The path to victory for Weld and Walsh is unclear—no president in recent history has lost their primary when seeking re-election. 

But who is Joe Walsh?

Joe Walsh in Politics

Walsh is best known for serving one term in Congress. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, representing the 8th Congressional District in Illinois. Walsh was a member of the Tea Party movement, which hit its peak the year he was elected. In 2012, Walsh ran against Democratic candidate Tammy Duckworth and was defeated.

Walsh had earlier ran unsuccessfully for an Illinois House seat in 1996 and again in 1998.

Walsh on the Radio

After leaving Congress, Walsh became a conservative radio show host, hosting The Joe Walsh Show on a variety of stations since 2013. He was temporarily taken off the air in 2014 after using racial slurs. 

The episode, which was related to a discussion of the name of the Washington Redskins, was not the first or last time Walsh made controversial statements. In a 2011 interview, for example, he suggested that then-President Barack Obama was only elected because he was “a black man who was articulate.” In subsequent years, he pushed the birther conspiracy and suggested that Obama hated Israel and is Muslim.

Walsh’s Super PAC

In addition to his radio show, Walsh launched the Grow and Be Free Super PAC after leaving office. The Super PAC was intended to back conservative, non-establishment candidates and eventually shut down in 2015. Walsh also worked on state and local government policy issues at the libertarian Heartland Institute.

Walsh on Trump

Walsh initially supported Trump during his 2016 campaign, but has since distanced himself from the president and declared him unfit for office. A tweet he shared weeks before the 2016 election says, “On November 8th, I’m voting for Trump. On November 9th, if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket. You in?”

In a New York Times op-ed he wrote earlier this month though, Walsh enumerated Trump’s lies, calling him “a racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia,” and denied that Trump is a conservative. 

“He’s reckless on fiscal issues; he’s incompetent on the border; he’s clueless on trade; he misunderstands executive power; and he subverts the rule of law. It’s his poor record that makes him most worthy of a primary challenge,” he wrote.

The Latest on Walsh

When Walsh officially announced his candidacy on ABC’s This Week, he apologized for his role in criticizing Obama, noting that some of the comments he had made at the time “helped create Trump.” 

“I feel responsible for that,” he told host George Stephanopoulos. “The personal, ugly politics. I regret that. Now we have a guy in the White House, that’s all he does.”

On Twitter, Walsh added, “We can’t take four more years of Donald Trump. And that’s why I’m running for President. It won’t be easy, but bravery is never easy. But together, we can do it.”

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