Editorial: The quixotic campaign of Joe Walsh

It's hard to know what to make of the seemingly quixotic campaign of suburban firebrand Joe Walsh for the Republican presidential nomination.

Our first impulse - not necessarily an incorrect one - is to suspect this is a way for Walsh to try to build his local media brand into a national one.

There are enormous odds, after all, against Walsh being successful in wresting the nomination away from President Donald Trump.

As polarizing a figure as Trump is in the country, poll after poll shows him to be tremendously popular among Republican voters. And in primary states and caucuses that allow for crossovers, Democratic anti-Trumpers would not be likely to help Walsh out, given the greater interest they'd have in their own party's competition.

Beyond that, it's fair to ask whether critics looking for an alternative to Trump would see much of one in Walsh, despite the regrets he has expressed for his previous Trumpian behavior. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, another Trump primary opponent, seems at the outset to be a more palatable alternative for any Republicans turned off by Trump's personality.

Meanwhile, Walsh's government service amounts to all of two highly partisan years as a congressman from the Northwest suburbs - a resume that, in another era at least, would have been considered too little preparation for the most powerful job in the world. Walsh himself, as a matter of fact, complained in the past that in electing Barack Obama, the country had put someone in the White House with such little experience that he had to learn on the job.

He starts the race with relatively little in campaign funds - up against a president who has accumulated the wealthiest campaign war chest in the history of the republic.

So it's hard to know what to make of the seemingly quixotic campaign of Joe Walsh for the Republican presidential nomination.

Frankly, it's hard at first glance to take it seriously.

But ... in this day and age, who knows? Strange things happen.

Four years ago, no one believed Trump could win the nomination. And after that, almost no one imagined he could win the general election.

Weld might be more thoughtful, but Walsh is more magnetic.

Like Trump, he is a creature of the media and intuitively knows how to use it. He's already garnering more free national media than Weld could ever hope for.

It's reasonable to be skeptical about Walsh's motives, but fair also to point out that he's consistently criticized Trump for many months.

"Be brave," Walsh says. Given that he's risking his significant standing among conservatives, the question is whether Walsh is being brave or foolhardy.

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