Former Republican congressman and right-wing talk radio host Joe Walsh formally announced his intention to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary this weekend. Pro-Trump media outlets, and even a handful of anti-Trump conservative publications, collectively balked at the idea, dismissing Walsh’s candidacy as absurd—and worse.
Years ago, Walsh was a vocal defender and advocate for Trump, and an active contributor to the contentious political climate that allowed for Trump’s success, but nowadays he offers criticisms of Trump from a conservative position. With the blessings of anti-Trump conservative and neo-liberal commentators, Walsh announced his candidacy on weekend television shows.
Modern right-wing media figures were not impressed.
BlazeTV’s Eric Bolling said that Walsh would surely “blow himself up in fantastic fashion. Nice guy but bat$hit.”
I’ve known @WalshFreedom for a decade. I know his wife. I’ve interviewed & shared panels w/ him.
*One thing I can ASSURE you- Joe will blow himself up in fantastic fashion. Nice guy but bat$hit.@realDonaldTrump being used by people who are airtime starved- looking for a meal.
— Eric Bolling🇺🇸 (@ericbolling) August 26, 2019
Erick Erickson wrote that Walsh was a one of the president’s “vocal defenders” in 2016, until Trump was actually elected, that is. “It’s almost as if Walsh figured he could be a dyed in the wool Trump humper in 2016 presuming Trump would never get elected so that Walsh could benefit in his talk radio career as a Trump defender without the consequence of a Trump presidency,” Erickson wrote. He continued:
If anything, Joe Walsh is like the evangelical preacher who preaches on sin and damnation only to be found out as a sexual deviant and, instead of repenting, throws out orthodoxy in favor of a book deal and media adoration. He’s Jerry Falwell, Jr. for the anti-Trump crowd.
Commentator Dan Bongino wrote that “Joe Walsh is going to make Evan McMuffin look like Alexander the Great.”
Joe Walsh is going to make Evan McMuffin look like Alexander the Great.
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) August 25, 2019
Right-wing activist Candace Owens compared Walsh to Jeffrey Epstein.
You look like Jeffrey Epstein. https://t.co/rsZ2xii8x1
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) August 25, 2019
Seth Mandel, the editor at Washington Examiner, described Walsh as a “racist overgrown child living life as twitter troll” and rhetorically asked whether Walsh’s candidacy was proof “we’re in the doom loop.”
Joe Walsh is *even crazier* than I remember. I think I didn’t pay too much attention to a racist overgrown child living life as twitter troll, but now that he’s running for president oh my god where have I heard this before we’re in the doom loop aren’t we pic.twitter.com/5RkCDUNBJr
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) August 26, 2019
Radio host Wayne Dupree wrote that Walsh may be running to attempt to boost his radio audience, because that would be “all he can hope to accomplish because he hasn’t a chance against a man who continues to have the firm support of virtually all those who first voted for him.”
Human Events publisher Will Chamberlain posited that NeverTrump columnist Bill Kristol would have better luck with “posting a Craigslist ad for President, then choosing someone at random” than throwing his weight behind Walsh in a primary challenge that is highly unlikely to succeed. From Human Events:
The #NeverTrump clique’s willingness to support Joe Walsh demonstrates that their commitment to “principles” is paper-thin. They argue, frivolously, that Trump is a racist and unfit to be President; to replace him, they offer an actual racist and a deadbeat dad. There is nothing holding the #NeverTrump ideology together, no principles or values — only resentment.
Right-wing social media brand “Reagan Battalion” put simply: “thanks but no thanks.”
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) August 25, 2019
Terrence Williams, a right-wing comedian who was recently retweeted by the president, wrote that Walsh was “a deadbeat daddy that owed over 100k in child support.”
Former GOP Rep. Joe Walsh is going to Challenge President Trump in 2020
Walsh is a deadbeat daddy that owed over 100k in child support.
His mission will be to free all deadbeats of Child Support Debt.
— Terrence K. Williams (@w_terrence) August 22, 2019
Tony Shaffer, a right-wing commentator and member of the Trump 2020 advisory board, responded to Walsh’s campaign announcement by asking if his Twitter account was a parody.
Oh, man – is this a parody account? 😂
— Tony Shaffer (@T_S_P_O_O_K_Y) August 25, 2019
In response to rumors earlier last week of Walsh’s plans to campaign for the Republican Party presidential nomination, National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote that Walsh’s attempt to reconcile his role in helping get Trump into the White House would not be best resolved with a presidential bid. From Geraghty:
It’s one thing to ask for forgiveness. It’s another to ask to be elected commander-in-chief the following week. It’s great that Walsh wants to turn over a new leaf, demonstrate civility and respect and appreciation for decorum, and set a new, better example for everyone in the political arena. But from 2010 to late 2017 or so . . . he had a pretty Trump-y public persona, which raises some tough questions about why Walsh would be the right guy to replace Trump on the GOP ticket.
On RedState, a similar tone was found. The site’s managing editor wrote that Walsh’s primary challenge to Trump was not the answer. From RedState:
Whatever the question is, Joe Walsh is not the answer. This is, at best, a publicity stunt and given who is involved, you know there has to be grifting out the wazoo. But don’t worry. Bill Kristol has cast a wide net and there are more waiting in the wings.
Everyone who is a natural-born citizen over the age of 35 is entitled to take a shot if they wish.
But holy cow. Talk about a longshot. Does anyone seriously think that Joe can even make a serious dent in Trump’s numbers, to say nothing of actually carrying a state in the primary or winning the whole thing?