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Ex-Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh Announces Primary Challenge to Trump

Ex-Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh Announces Primary Challenge to Trump

Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh announced that he will run challenge President Donald Trump in the Republican primaries Sunday.

Walsh, who viciously smeared former President Obama after riding the Tea Party wave to a short-lived congressional stint, said he felt partially “responsible” for helping Trump’s rise and would go after the president with the same zeal as he did his predecessor.

In his announcement on ABC News’ “This Week,” Walsh repeatedly called Trump "incompetent," "nuts," "erratic," "narcissist," "bully," "coward," "completely unfit," "disloyal," and "un-American."

"I'm running because he's unfit; somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative. The country is sick of this guy's tantrum -- he's a child," said Walsh, who has hosted a conservative talk show since his single term in the House.

Walsh told host George Stephanopoulos that he hopes his ads will catch on like wildfire in Iowa and New Hampshire.

"And if you're wrong?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"If I'm wrong, it was the right fight, because somebody had to do this," Walsh replied.

Walsh is the second Republican primary challenger to Trump, joining former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who ran as Gary Johnson’s running mate on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016. Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich have also been rumored as potential primary challengers.

In response to Walsh’s announcement, RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel dismissed Walsh’s bid.

"President Trump enjoys unprecedented support among Republicans,” she told ABC News. “He has already delivered a long list of incredible accomplishments for conservatives and the country. Republicans are firmly behind the president and any effort to challenge him in a primary is bound to go absolutely nowhere."

Trump’s campaign had a shorter response: “Whatever," said communications director Tim Murtaugh.

Walsh apologizes for smearing Obama:

Walsh repeatedly made racist comments about Obama and others and as recently as 2016 insisted that Obama was a secret Muslim.

"I helped create Trump, and George, that's not an easy thing to say," Walsh told Stephanopoulos. "I went beyond the policy and the idea differences and I got personal and I got hateful. I said some ugly things about President Obama that I regret.”

Stephanopoulos pointed out that Walsh continued to say racist things about Democrats after Obama left office. He noted that in August 2017, Walsh tweeted, "Senator Kamala Harris said something really dumb. Meh. If you're black and a woman, you can say dumb things. Lowered bar."

"That is kind of textbook racism and sexism," Stephanopoulos said.

Walsh replied that Trump’s time in office made him “reflect on some of the things I said in the past.”

"Did you really believe [Obama is] a Muslim?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"God no. And I have apologized for that," Walsh said. "I'm bearing my soul with you right now on national TV. We have a guy in the White House who's never apologized for anything he's done or said."

Walsh urges Republicans to ‘say publicly what you believe privately’:

Walsh said that he is hoping the reports that Republicans who publicly support Trump criticize him privately are true.

"I've been in conservative talk radio for the last five years, and the people I talk to generally privately tell me 'I can't stand him, but Joe, the Democrats are socialists' or 'I can't stand him Joe, but I like my tax cuts,'" Walsh told CNN Monday. "The bet I'm making with this campaign and our slogan is be brave, which is come on out. Say publicly what you believe privately.”

"I just want to remind people: even if you don't agree with me, we live in a country where we do have free speech," he later added, "Oftentimes, I step over the line ... If there's one thing I've learned in the last couple years (it) is it can lead to what we have in the White House now."