Joe Walsh, a virulent Trump-hater, announced his primary challenge of President Donald Trump in a campaign that looks to be more of a publicity stunt than it is a serious threat to the president.
Like many Never-Trumpers on the right, it’s hard to discern where Walsh’s talking points pick up and the Democratic Party’s narrative drops off, which assures him a healthy share of earned media on CNN and MSNBC. After all, no one has more love for disaffected Republicans than those networks.
But how can Walsh, a one-term former congressman, hope to convince Republican voters to back him when he can’t sell his hypocrisy to those who make their living, such as it is, bashing Trump?
Appearing on MSNBC on Sunday, Walsh was grilled by anchor Kendis Gibson for his past support of Trump.
Gibson highlighted a 2016 tweet from Walsh that read: “November 8 I’m voting for Trump. On November 9, if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket. You in?”
“Look, I didn’t love Trump,” Walsh said when asked about his past support. “I didn’t like him, he wasn’t Hillary [Clinton] so it was a pretty easy vote.”
As he tried to further explain his actions, Gibson interjected, “You could have quietly voted for him. That sounds like supporting.”
“I had a conservative talk radio show. I can’t be quiet about anything,” Walsh replied. “He wasn’t Hillary and when he first got elected, I tried to do the whole good Trump/bad Trump thing. I’d praise him when he did something I liked. I would criticize him when he did something when I didn’t. It became clear to me that the man basically lies every time he opens his mouth.”
Walsh set himself up for failure in misrepresenting Trump’s remarks in Helsinki, as he stood alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that was the moment Trump lost him.
Gibson shot back that this occurred in 2018, after events in Charlottesville, where the media misrepresented the president’s words about there being good people on both sides of the Confederate monument debate.
Walsh chuckled a bit at being called out, but knew better than to go along with the media distortion if he hopes to have any credibility with Republicans.
“I think he was so damn inarticulate he botched those comments at Charlottesville,” he said.
Not that Walsh isn’t willing to go down the path that Trump may be a racist.
“I’m not going to hide from you. I think the guy stokes bigotry,” he said, hoping to appease Gibson. “I think he stokes racism. But I think it’s all about Trump. I don’t think he’s a racist. It’s just all whatever benefits Donald Trump, that’s all I care about.”
When asked if he’s a “different” Joe Walsh today, the long-shot candidate declared, “I’ve had my ‘Road to Damascus’ moment.”
(This being a reference to the c
He owned up to his past rhetoric, including calling Barack Obama a Muslim, saying he let his policy disagreements with Obama “get the better of me and I got personal.”
Desperate to get the focus off himself, he launched into a tirade against Trump, even calling him a “sexual predator,” but Gibson was zeroed in, getting Walsh to admit on air that he apologized for once using the n-word.
“Is it too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube?” the MSNBC host asked.
Almost comically, Walsh insisted that it’s not too late, assuring Gibson that out of thousands of tweets he has sent, there’s only “200 to 300” potentially offensive ones out there.
Gibson, trying to remain respectful, looked as if he was straining to hold back the laughter.
He brought up Obama’s birth certificate, saying there is criticism that Walsh was “the original Trump before Trump.”
“I went after Obama in some ugly ways but never, ever got into birtherism,” replied the GOP candidate.
Even if there is a 2015 tweet out there that may suggest otherwise, coming in response to Trump letting a woman feel his hair to prove it was real: “Obama never let a voter feel his birth certificate.”
It’s going to be a long way ’til November, Joe.
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