Joe Walsh 2020 presidential campaign

Former U.S. representative Joe Walsh's campaign for President of the United States in the 2020 election began on August 25, 2019, when he announced his candidacy during an interview on ABC's show This Week, concurrently with the release of a video and a tweet. Walsh is challenging incumbent Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, along with former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld. Walsh had been a strong supporter of Trump's during the 2016 election but had gradually become disenchanted with the President, describing him as "morally unfit". In view of Trump's high popularity among Republicans and Walsh's own history of controversial statements, Walsh was considered a long-shot candidate for the nomination. He announced the suspension of his campaign on February 7, 2020, after poor results in the Iowa caucuses.

Walsh For President
Joe Walsh 2020 Logo-black.svg
Campaign2020 United States presidential election (Republican Party primaries)
CandidateJoe Walsh
U.S. representative from IL-08 (2011–2013)
AffiliationRepublican Party
AnnouncedAugust 25, 2019
SuspendedFebruary 7, 2020
Key peopleLucy Caldwell (campaign manager)[1]
ReceiptsUS$480,115.17[2] (12-31-2019)
SloganBe Brave


Congressional tenure (2011–2013)Edit

Joe Walsh was elected to the United States House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections, defeating three-term incumbent Melissa Bean by 291 votes in an upset election. Though he received little support from establishment Republicans and the Illinois Republican Party, Walsh enjoyed strong support from members of the Tea Party Movement which propelled him to victory.[3] During his time in Congress, Walsh gained national notoriety for his criticism of President Barack Obama and the Obama Administration. His comments often made headlines for being sharp and occasionally racially-motivated.[4][5][6]

Walsh was defeated for reelection in 2012 by Tammy Duckworth. During that race, Walsh again made national headlines when he criticized Duckworth for discussing her military experience so much on the campaign trail. (Duckworth was seriously injured in a helicopter crash during the Iraq War, leading to a double leg amputation and loss of some sensation in her right hand, among other injuries.) Walsh stated, "Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it's the last thing in the world they talk about."[7] Parallels were later drawn between Walsh's comments and Donald Trump's comments during his 2016 campaign in which Trump stated John McCain was not a "war hero" because "he was captured."[8] Duckworth defeated Walsh 55% to 45%.[9]

Radio show host and Trump supporterEdit

Following his retirement from Congress, Walsh began hosting a Conservative talk radio show, The Joe Walsh Show. Though initially only broadcast in the Chicago radio market, the show was eventually nationally syndicated by the Salem Radio Network.[10] Walsh again made several controversial statements during his radio program. In August 2019, Walsh stated "I wouldn’t call myself a racist, but...I’ve said racist things on Twitter. There's no doubt about it. And an apology is not enough."[11] After the 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers, Walsh's Twitter account was temporarily suspended after he made statements critical of Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement that were perceived as threatening.[12]

During this period, Walsh became an outspoken supporter of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Walsh initially endorsed Kentucky Senator Rand Paul in the 2016 Republican primaries but supported Trump once he had secured the nomination.[13] On October 24, 2016, Walsh wrote on Twitter, "On November 8th, I'm voting for Trump. On November 9th, if Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket. You in?"[14][15] Following Trump's Inauguration, Walsh criticized some of Trump's Cabinet selections for having ties to Goldman Sachs, although he remained supportive of the President.[16]

Increasing critique of Trump and campaign speculationEdit

Walsh publicly rescinded his support for Donald Trump in July 2018 after the Helsinki Summit between Trump and President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Walsh stated "I will never support Trump again," calling him "a danger to this country."[17][18][19] Walsh was one of the few Republican supporters of the Special Counsel investigation conducted by Robert Mueller to determine the presence of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.[20] Shortly before announcing his presidential campaign, Walsh stated in an interview with CNN's Brooke Baldwin "I don't know how anybody can read this report and think, 'This is behavior that we want in our president...'Criminal behavior, who knows? But, boy, dishonest, immoral, unethical? Heck yes it is. And I’ll tell you, Brooke, every Republican on Capitol Hill agrees with what I just said. They can’t say that publicly."[21] Walsh had begun discussing the need for a conservative to challenge Trump in 2020 as early as December 2018 and began to discuss the potential for his own run early in the summer of 2019.[22]

Following the Senate vote not to require witnesses at the impeachment trial of Donald Trump on January 31, Walsh said that the vote was "Absolutely cowardly", and "I’m a Republican running for president;... these Senate Republicans... deserve to pay a big price."[23]


After months of speculation, Walsh officially announced he would challenge Donald Trump on August 25, 2019, via a post made on Twitter and a video released on his website, alongside an interview on ABC's This Week. Walsh commented his candidacy was more focused on Trump's character than it was on the issues, stating, "I'm running against Trump because he's morally unfit. Period. It's about Trump. It's not about the issues. It's about Trump."[24] In another interview, Walsh referred to the election as a "referendum" on Trump.[25] In an interview with MSNBC shortly after announcing his candidacy, Walsh said that, should he be unsuccessful against Trump, he could be persuaded to vote for the Democratic nominee in the general election. He added "I will never vote for Donald Trump again."[26]

Due to President Trump's high approval ratings among Republican voters and Walsh's controversial past statements, he is considered a long-shot candidate for the presidency. Walsh began apologizing for his past controversial statements, including rescinding his remarks that Barack Obama is Muslim.[25] Trump's approval rating among Republicans has remained above 80% since the end of 2017.[27][28]

On August 26, 2019, a day after announcing his campaign for president, Walsh announced he had lost his national radio syndication contract with the Salem Radio Network. Walsh's show will still air on Chicago's WIND until his paperwork to run is officially filed, then will likely be suspended or discontinued.[29] Walsh stated that without his radio show, he planned to campaign "full time".[24]

On September 6, 2019, Walsh appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher where host Bill Maher condemned a report that Republican primaries and caucuses were being canceled in the states of South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas before remarking that Walsh would have lost anyway.[30]

On November 8, 2019, Walsh said in an interview that he would be more "pro-Israel" than Trump and stated that he would push for a one-state solution from Jordan to the Mediterranean if elected president.[31]

In an interview with CNN on February 7, 2020, Walsh announced he was suspending his campaign after receiving only 1.1% of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. Walsh called the Republican Party a "cult" and suggested that he would likely support the Democratic nominee in the general election, stating he would rather have a devout socialist win the election than Trump.[32] According to Walsh, no one could beat Trump in a Republican primary, because Trump supporters had become "followers" who think that Trump "can do no wrong", after absorbing misinformation "from 'conservative' media. They don't know what the truth is and — more importantly — they don't care."[33]



  1. ^ Lachlan Markey (August 26, 2019). "Joe Walsh 'Completely Ghosted' His Campaign Manager Days Before White House Run". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Sroka, Diana (November 14, 2010). "Breaking down how Joe Walsh turned tide vs. Melissa Bean" (Pay per view). Northwest Herald. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  4. ^ Skiba, Katherine (June 15, 2011). "Illinois' 5 Republican Freshmen Reflect on First 6 Months in Congress". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Daily Herald Editorial Board (October 28, 2010). "Congress, 8th District: Bean". Daily Herald. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  6. ^ Richinik, Michele (June 20, 2014). "Ex-Rep. Joe Walsh claims he was forced off his radio show over racial slurs". MSNBC. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "Walsh defends remarks on whether Duckworth is true hero". Chicago Tribune. July 3, 2012.
  8. ^ Pearson, Rick (August 25, 2019). "Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, once a Trump supporter, to challenge him in Republican primary". The Chicago-Tribune. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  9. ^ Capeheart, Jonathan (November 7, 2012). "Rep. Joe Walsh gets the boot". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  10. ^ "Wednesday, February 8, 2017". February 8, 2017. Archived from the original on April 30, 2017. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  11. ^ Wise, Justin (August 26, 2019). "Joe Walsh: 'I wouldn't call myself racist' but 'I've said racist things'". The Hill. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  12. ^ Skiba, Katherine; Crepeau, Megan (July 8, 2016). "Ex-Illinois Rep. Walsh says Twitter took down Dallas tweet 'Watch out Obama'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 8, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  13. ^ Grove, Lloyd (March 20, 2018). "How Shock Jock Joe Walsh Became Trump's Fiercest Conservative Critic". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  14. ^ "Former Republican congressman promises to lead an armed revolution — with muskets — should Donald Trump lose". The Week. October 26, 2016. Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  15. ^ Johnson, Jennifer (September 16, 2016). "Joe Walsh Says Trump Won't Win Illinois, Urges Maine Township Voters to Focus on Local Races". Chicago Tribune (in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate). Archived from the original on December 4, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  16. ^ Alters, Kimberly (November 30, 2016). "Former Rep. Joe Walsh is Not Thrilled With Trump's Cabinet Choices". The Week. Archived from the original on December 4, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  17. ^ Hoffmann, Bill (July 16, 2018). "Joe Walsh on Trump: He's a 'Traitor' and 'Danger' to US". Newsmax. Archived from the original on July 16, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Shuham, Matt (July 16, 2018). "Joe Walsh: 'I Will Never Support Trump Again'". Talking Points Memo. Archived from the original on July 16, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  19. ^ Fritze, John; Jackson, David; Collins, Eliza (July 16, 2018). "Republicans Blast Trump Meeting with Putin as 'Shameful' and 'Sign of Weakness'". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 16, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  20. ^ Carter, Brandon (December 8, 2017). "Joe Walsh rips Fox News, calls Mueller an 'American Hero'". The Hill. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  21. ^ Bowden, John (August 21, 2019). "Joe Walsh expected to announce presidential run: report". The Hill. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  22. ^ Karni, Annie; Haberman, Maggie (August 21, 2019). "A Former Congressman and Tea Party Republican Considers a Challenge to Trump". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  23. ^ Brad Reed (January 31, 2020). "'Absolutely cowardly!' Ex-Tea Party lawmaker delivers brutal verdict on GOP's impending Trump acquittal". The Raw Story. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Tillett, Emily; Ramirez, Stephanie (August 27, 2019). "Joe Walsh, Republican candidate challenging Trump, says he lost his radio show". CBS News. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  25. ^ a b Sweet, Lynn (August 25, 2019). "Walsh kicks off long-shot GOP primary bid: 'It's a referendum on Trump'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  26. ^ Wulfsohn, Joseph A. (August 26, 2019). "Republican 2020 challenger Joe Walsh: 'I don't know' if I could vote for Dem to stop Trump". Fox News. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  27. ^ Coaston, Joan (August 27, 2019). "The problem with primarying Trump". Vox. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  28. ^ Caroline Kelly; Kate Sullivan (August 25, 2019). "Joe Walsh to take on Trump in 2020 Republican primary". CNN. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  29. ^ Budryk, Zack (August 26, 2019). "Joe Walsh says he lost his national radio show". The Hill. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  30. ^ Garcia, Victor (September 6, 2019). "Bill Maher asks GOP's Joe Walsh about his 'seething, frothing hatred' for Barack Obama". Fox News.
  31. ^ "GOP presidential primary challenger Joe Walsh vows to be 'more pro-Israel' than Trump". Jewish News Syndicate. November 8, 2019. Joe Walsh: I would push for a one-state solution from Jordan to the Mediterranean. I don’t believe in the two-state solution. The two-state solution is a fallacy. It’s a pipe dream. I would advocate a one-state—an Israeli state—for the entire region. I would make very clear at the outset that that’s what I support.
  32. ^ Stracqualursi, Veronica (February 7, 2020). "Joe Walsh ends Republican primary challenge against Trump". CNN. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  33. ^ Lyn Pence, Nicole (February 7, 2020). "'I would rather have a socialist in the White House than Donald Trump,' says Republican Joe Walsh". MarketWatch. Retrieved February 8, 2020.

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