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Joe Walsh Prepares To Launch Challenge To Trump

In a good economy and with Democrats veering to the left, Donald Trump has to do only two things to assure his re-election. First, he has to not look crazy. Second, he has to keep the economy solid, which would only require staying out of the way. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump seems incapable of doing either.

Conservatives who are not excited about re-electing Donald Trump may soon have another choice. There are indications that Joe Walsh may soon be throwing his hat into the ring for the Republican presidential nomination.

For those who may be confused, Walsh is not the former member of the Eagles, but a former Tea Party congressman from Illinois. Walsh, whose district was redrawn by Illinois Democrats after the 2010 census, was a harsh critic of Barack Obama who has a strong conservative record. He has a 90 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, 94 percent from the Club for Growth, 93 percent from Heritage Action for America, and a perfect score from Americans for Prosperity.

Since leaving Congress, Walsh has hosted a nationally syndicated conservative talk radio show. As a conservative critic of Donald Trump, Walsh has also been one of my favorite Twitter follows for the past few years. A former Trump supporter, Walsh is now sounding the alarm about Donald Trump, who he calls a “ disaster for the party and the country.”

“If Republicans don’t stand up right now and challenge this guy right now, he’s bad for the party, he’s bad for the country, we’re going to get wiped out in 2020,” Walsh recently said in an appearance on CNN last week.

Now Walsh says that he is “strongly, strongly considering” taking on Trump in the Republican primary.

“I’m not trying to be cute or coy,” Walsh said on CNN’s “New Day.” “I’ve told you before — if somebody’s going to get in there and go after him … it’s got to be done soon.”

Walsh’s timing is good. After President Trump’s performance over the past few days, many Republicans have to be privately worrying about his ability to win the election next as well as his ability to govern for the next four years if he does win. So far this week, the president has repeated an endorsement from Wayne Allen Root that claimed that Israeli Jews love Trump “like he is the second coming of God” and then went on to call himself “the Chosen One” to lead a trade war against China. The president also said that Barack Obama “outsmarted” Vladimir Putin in eliminating Russia from the G-8. In fact, a majority of nations voted to exclude Russia after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Trump also revived his plan to eliminate birthright citizenship by executive action yesterday, an undertaking that should alarm anyone who considers themselves to be a constitutionalist. In another action that makes him look unbalanced, the president canceled a state visit to Denmark after the Danish prime minister rebuffed his request to buy Greenland.

Perhaps even more alarming for Republicans is the looming prospect of a Trump recession. A growing number of economists are predicting that the trade war could lead to a recession, eliminating Trump’s strongest argument for re-election. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office issued an analysis that found that Mr. Trump’s trade policies were responsible both for slowing the economy and increasing the deficit, yet the president stands resolute.

Trump used religious terms when he defended his trade war to reporters yesterday.

“Somebody said it is Trump’s trade war. This isn’t my trade war,” Trump ranted. “This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents. Over the last five or six years, China has made $500 billion. $500 billion. Ripped it out of the United States. And not only that, if you take a look, intellectual property theft. Add that to it. And add a lot of other things to it. So somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it, so I’m taking on China. I’m taking on China on trade. And you know what? We’re winning.”

In response, China said in a statement to Reuters that it would “be forced to adopt retaliatory actions” if Trump “rides roughshod over China’s opposition and imposes any new tariffs.” China has previously threatened to cut off the supply of rare earths to the US, an action that would devastate the US tech industry.

In a good economy and with Democrats veering to the left, Donald Trump has to do only two things to assure his re-election. First, he has to not look crazy. Second, he has to keep the economy solid, which would only require staying out of the way. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump seems incapable of doing either.

So far, Republicans have not deserted the president, but there is a real possibility that they will do so before the election. Trump’s recent embrace of gun control plus his messianic comments may have already started to fracture his base. For the large number of Republicans who aren’t crazy about Trump’s behavior but who like his policy, a slowing economy might well be the last straw.

Walsh said that he expects to get a significant amount of financial support for his campaign, which may be formally launched as early as this weekend. Conservatives and businessmen who are worried about both Trump and the Democrats would be likely sources of funding.

“I’ve been really surprised by the amount of anxiousness from people across the spectrum who want this president to have a challenge because there’s just a real concern that he’s absolutely unfit,” Walsh told Politico.

Walsh would be a better fit for the Republican base than William Weld, another primary candidate challenging Trump. Weld, who ran as the vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2016, is pro-choice, which makes him a nonstarter for much of the Republican base. In contrast, Walsh has a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life. An additional conservative candidacy from former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has so far failed to materialize.

Nevertheless, Walsh’s candidacy is a long shot. Trump remains intensely popular within the Republican Party, if nowhere else. Donald Trump will have to completely self-destruct before Republicans abandon him. Even a total implosion by Mr. Trump before the primary may not break his hold on the GOP.

Walsh is optimistic, however. “I think if there is an alternative out there,” he said, “the money will follow.”

Note: Walsh’s rating from Heritage has been corrected from an earlier version,

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