Joe Walsh (not the Eagles guitarist; the other one) announced on Friday he is dropping out the 2020 race for president. Anyone not following politics very closely can be excused for not realizing Joe Walsh was running for president, or knowing who Joe Walsh is.
Walsh, a Republican from Illinois who served one-term in Congress (2011-2013), is best known as a rightwing radio talk show host. In 2016, he loudly supported Donald Trump for president, which made sense. Both men have long histories of racist statements, and both promoted the phony conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and therefore could not legitimately be U.S. president.
But in August, Walsh declared he was challenging President Trump for the 2020 Republican Party nomination for president. Walsh said he’d come to believe Trump is “nuts, he’s erratic, he’s cruel, he stokes bigotry.”
Walsh went on to apologize for backing Trump in 2016. He also apologized for the many racist statements he’s made in public over the years, including his advocacy for the “birther” conspiracy theory.
His rejection of racism did not make him an appealing candidate to Republican voters in the 2020 Iowa Caucus.
Walsh finished third in the Iowa Republican caucus, and there were only three candidates in the race — Walsh, Trump and former Massachusetts governor William Weld. Walsh received 348 votes statewide, or 1.1 percent of the total vote. He won zero delegates. Trump, by contrast, got 31,464 votes, or 97.1 percent. Trump won 39 of the 40 GOP state convention delegates awarded on Monday night. Weld won the remaining delegate, with 1.3 percent of the vote.
“The Republican Party is a cult,” Walsh said in his written statement about the end of his campaign. “No one, no matter his or her profile, can defeat Donald Trump in a Republican Primary.”
“This was confirmed for me firsthand last week in Iowa when I was booed off the stage by primary voters when I said we should expect decency and honesty from our President.”
The booing didn’t actually happen last week. It occurred during the caucus on Monday night, when Walsh spoke at a GOP precinct in Ankeny.
Former US Rep @WalshFreedom tells the crowd that he will “be decent” and that the party is losing people of color, women, and young people. He scolded them for cheering @realDonaldTrump tweets and is met with boos. He is shouted down before finishing. pic.twitter.com/VRH8f0Wse3
— Alex Plitsas (@alexplitsas) February 4, 2020
In his Friday statement, Walsh urged people to oppose the Republican Party, as well as Trump.
“It’s incumbent on us as a country — and as citizens — to reject the current direction of the Republican Party and work to elect Democrats who are closest to our values,” Walsh said.