Walsh ends GOP presidential campaign but says fight against Trump isn't over
With meager funding and backlash from his own party, it seemed inevitable outlier Republican Joe Walsh would end his primary challenge to President Donald Trump.
On Friday, the former Tea Party congressman from Mundelein made it official, saying bowing out now frees his followers in New Hampshire to back Democrats in Tuesday's primary.
"I'm suspending my campaign, but our fight against the Cult of Trump is just getting started," Walsh said in a Twitter post. "I'm committed to doing everything I can to defeat Trump and his enablers this November. I can't do it alone."
Just last weekend, Walsh was hard on the campaign trail in Iowa, but he failed to get on the March 17 primary ballot in his home state.
"It's been a wild ride," Walsh told the Daily Herald. "I realized as Iowa came to a close it was impossible for anyone to beat Trump in the primary.
"The Republican Party is Trump's party. It's not my party, it's a cult," he said. "Trump is the "greatest threat we face as a country."
Asked if he exited with a full campaign war chest, Walsh laughed.
"There's probably not much left. We didn't raise a whole heck of a lot," he said.
The Republican Party of Iowa reported Trump had 97 % of caucus votes, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld had 1.3 % and Walsh had 1.1 % in the Monday caucuses, the first of the primaries in the U.S.
"If I cared about money, attention and ratings, the easiest thing I could have done would have been to be a Trump cheerleader from the start. If I'd done that, I'd be on FOX News all the time," Walsh said.
Challenging Trump "was not a career move," said Walsh who was let go from WIND 560-AM, the Salem Media news/talk station he'd worked at since 2013.
And as for the future, "I don't like President Trump, so I have no home on conservative talk radio."
Walsh gained attention in 2010 by defeating 8th District Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean of Barrington.
He backed Trump in 2016, once saying on Twitter that if Trump lost the 2016 election, "I'm grabbing my musket."
He courted controversy on social media up until his run for president and frequently had to answer for those comments while on the campaign trail.
"I apologize for the things I said that led to Trump," Walsh said in Iowa last weekend.
Many Iowa Republicans told Walsh they supported him, he said, but told him "'you can't win so I'm going to caucus with the Democrats.'"
Stepping aside frees his followers in New Hampshire to vote for Democrats they favor in the Tuesday primary, Walsh said.
Much attention has been paid to the meltdown with incomplete and delayed Democratic vote tallies in Iowa but the Republican caucuses had flaws, too, Walsh said.
Some of his supporters "were not allowed to speak," and some votes were counted in private, he said.
Walsh planned to return to Mundelein this evening and catch up on sleep, but "I can tell you, we've got plans. I'm going to devote the next nine months to do what I can to make sure Trump is not elected."
Compared to Trump's massive war chest, the Walsh campaign had taken in $234,991 as of Sept. 30, including a $100,000 personal loan, and had spent $119,561.
"It's one of the toughest things I've ever done. I've got threats every day, I've aged," said Walsh, who was feisty but looked tired on the campaign trail last week.
But, "I have absolutely no regrets."