Trump Team’s Response To Joe Walsh’s Primary Challenge: ‘Whatever’
Former Republican congressman Joe Walsh, a frequent conservative critic of President Donald Trump on Twitter and in other public spheres, announced on Sunday he was planning a run for president as a Republican, in a direct primary challenge to the incumbent president.
“I’m going to run for president,” Walsh announced, per reporting from CNN. “I’m going to do whatever I can” to win, he added.
Walsh also explained that, should his long-shot campaign fail, he wouldn’t support his party’s nominee in the general election if the person they pick remains Trump.
“I don’t want [Trump] to win. The country cannot afford to have him win. If I’m not successful, I’m not voting for him,” Walsh said.
ABC News’ Jon Karl spoke with the Trump campaign’s communications staff to ask what their response to Walsh’s run was. In his retelling of their comments, he said they answered with just one word: “Whatever.”
"Whatever," is the Trump campaign's response to Joe Walsh's 2020 run.@jonkarl: "The president's hold on the Republican Party is as strong as it has ever been…there's really no indication that he has any vulnerability whatsoever to a primary challenge" https://t.co/xkJucRk8g1 pic.twitter.com/MAV7mc979u
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 25, 2019
Karl added his own analysis to the matter:
“The president’s hold on the Republican Party is as strong as it has ever been. In fact, he is by far the most popular Republican figure among Republicans in the country. There’s really no indication that he has any vulnerability whatsoever to a primary challenge.”
Walsh would indeed face an uphill climb to defeating Trump. According to a slew of polling data, Trump has anywhere between 84 percent to 88 percent approval ratings among members of his own party — although his recent assertions tweeted out on Friday, in which the president said he had a 94 percent approval rating among Republicans, could not be verified, the Washington Post reported.
Although Trump has a storied history of gaffes and miscues as president, Walsh is not without his own set of controversies. He pushed conspiracy theories against former President Barack Obama as a lawmaker in Congress, for instance, alleging the former commander-in-chief wasn’t a citizen at one point.
Walsh earlier this year expressed remorse for his role in promulgating the “birtherism” conspiracy theory, HuffPost reported, which Trump also promoted before deciding to run for president in 2015. Trump has not yet apologized for his role in pushing birtherism.