Tea Party Ex-Rep. Joe Walsh Expected To Mount Primary Challenge Against Trump

Joe Walsh, a former Republican member of Congress and tea party figure turned controversial talk show host, is expected to announce his candidacy for president in the coming days, according to reports by Politico and The New York Times.

If Walsh does throw his hat in the ring, he’ll be the second Republican to mount a primary challenge against President Donald Trump. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld announced in April that he’d be running for president.

Both Politico and the Times reported that Walsh, who served as the Republican representative for Illnois’ 8th Congressional District from 2011 to 2013, will likely announce his presidential bid this weekend.

Walsh, 57, neither confirmed nor denied the impending announcement, but told Politico that if he was going to “do it, it’s going to happen soon.” 

“I’ve been really surprised by the amount of anxiousness from people across the spectrum who want this president to have a challenge, because there’s just a real concern that he’s absolutely unfit,” Walsh said, adding that he’d “abso-freaking-lutely” be able to secure the financial support needed for the campaign. 

Walsh, who voted for Trump in 2016, wrote in a Times op-ed earlier this month that he’d become convinced in the months and years following the election that the president was not a good leader, but a “racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia.” 

“I wanted to apologize for the role I played in helping to put an unfit con man in the White House,” Walsh tweeted following the op-ed’s publication.

Like Trump, Walsh has also been accused of bigotry and xenophobia. In 2016, he claimed former President Barack Obama “hates Israel” because he’s “a Muslim.” Obama is a Protestant Christian.

In 2017, Walsh said Obama’s inexperience as a presidential candidate was given a pass by his supporters “simply because he’s black.” Later that year, he accused musician Stevie Wonder of being “another ungrateful black multi millionaire” after he took a knee on stage to protest police brutality.

He also attacked the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, vowed to grab his “musket” if Trump lost the 2016 election, and threatened “war” on Obama and “Black Lives Matter punks” after the 2016 ambush of police officers in Dallas.

If Walsh does become a presidential contender, he’d face an uphill battle against Trump, who boasts ample resources and whose approval rating with Republican voters has remained consistently high. 

When asked by the Times to react to Walsh’s potential primary challenge, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s reelection campaign, responded with just two words: “Certain failure.”

Asked on Thursday whether it’s worth running even if he “can’t win,” Walsh said yes.

“This is a scary time,” he told CNN’s “New Day.” “And if Republicans ... stay silent in the face of this guy, I don’t think the country will ever forgive the Republican Party. But forget about the Republican Party, if this guy gets four more years, we’re in real, real trouble. It’s worth doing anything you can do to try to stop that.”

This article has been updated to include Walsh’s comments on CNN.

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