Former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois said he’s sorry he voted for President Donald Trump. Now, he says, he’s ready to do something about it.
Guest co-hosts Amy Donaldson of the Deseret News and Utah Republican Rep. Steve Handy spoke Wednesday to Walsh on KSL’s “Inside Sources” about his primary challenge against Trump.
Walsh’s announced his campaign for president Aug. 25 during an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” calling Trump an “unfit con man.”
Former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who was the 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee, and former Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., have also said they will mount a primary challenge against Trump.
“It’s not an easy thing to say, but I say it: Trump is unfit to be president,” Walsh said. “I think we have a horrible human being in the White House. And, my God, America, we ought to do better than this.
“It’s the 18th anniversary of 9/11, and the president of the United States wakes up and he goes on a tweetstorm,” he said, “tweeting about himself, about fake news and how the polls and the media are unfair to him.
In a hypothetical poll, done by one of the worst pollsters of them all, the Amazon Washington Post/ABC, which predicted I would lose to Crooked Hillary by 15 points (how did that work out?), Sleepy Joe, Pocahontas and virtually all others would beat me in the General Election….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2019
“I’m just tired of him,” said Walsh. “I think most Americans are. I actually think most Republicans are.”
Walsh was a Trump supporter during the 2016 campaign, so Donaldson asked him, “What was the tipping point?”
“I was never an enthusiastic supporter. He actually blocked me on Twitter during the 2016 campaign,” Walsh said.
“Look, I voted for him, not because I loved or liked him. He wasn’t Hillary [Clinton].
“I just figured he’s a blowhard, he’s a goof. Maybe he’ll appoint a couple good people and a couple good things will happen.
“Virtually, every time he opens his mouth, he tells a lie. Now I don’t care what your politics are, but no one should allow that,” he said.
Wash said the final straw was the meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland, when Trump sided with Putin over his own intelligence committee on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“That was an incredible act of disloyalty,” Walsh said.
“At what point did you think a presidential run was the answer?” Donaldson asked.
“That’s a good question,” he said, laughing. “I’ve never run for president before. This is a pain in the butt.”
“I thought you were getting out of politics?” she asked.
“I’ve been waiting all year for a Republican to step up,” Walsh said. “This is not about any issue. This is about Trump, who he is as a human being.
“I’ve been waiting for a Republican all year . . . to say he’s unfit. I wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about a month and a half ago, pleading with my Republican Party: Somebody stand up and say this. Nobody did, so I did at the end of August.”
Handy, a state Republican lawmaker, and Donaldson asked if there is discontent in the party, why don’t more Republicans don’t stand up to the president?
“Mitt Romney walks a fine line [when it comes to criticizing the president],” Handy said.
“I love Mitt Romney, but sometimes I want to whack him upside the head,” Walsh responded. “He does speak out now and then, but I wish he’d speak out more.”
Romney is “sickened” by Trump administration’s dishonesty:
I have now read the redacted Mueller report and offer my personal reaction: pic.twitter.com/ACnExskqXJ
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) April 19, 2019
Walsh claimed virtually every Republican in the House and Senate agrees privately with what he says publicly about the president.
“They know he’s unfit. They know he lies. They know he’s incapable of thinking about anybody but himself,” he said
They are afraid of a Trump tweet, Walsh said, and they’re afraid of a primary challenge and losing their office.
Walsh said Republican lawmakers all think that Trump will lose in 2020.
“Because then they think that they can be rid of him,” he said, “and that the Grand Old Party can come back.
“I think if the Republican Party doesn’t stand up now against this guy and say this is not who we are, we are better than this, I fear the Republican Party may never rebound from what Trump has done,” Walsh said.
Donaldson said the Republican Party of her childhood strove for small government and fiscal restraint. What, she asked, will it take to bring the GOP back to its roots or does it need to?
“I’m very pessimistic about the future. The Republican Party was really weak before Trump, which is why a jerk like Trump could get elected. By the time I went to Congress in 2010,” Walsh said, “I was concerned about limited government and the debt, but the Republican Party in 2010 didn’t care about limited government and the debt. My only hope is that this guy in the White House is so bad and he’s so not who we are that it will cause some sort of really grand reaction — a rebound — that we’re almost shocked into getting back to our original roots. That’s my hope and that’s what I going to try to do with my campaign.”
Walsh says his campaign plans to come to Utah but he doesn’t know when, but he would like to hang out in the studio with Donaldson and Handy, the co-hosts of Tuesday’s show.
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