As for Walsh, a week ago the one-term congressman from Illinois wrote an op-ed in the New York Times declaring, “There’s a strong case for President Trump to face a Republican primary challenger.” He acknowledged that he had publicly supported Trump in 2016 and voted for him, but said that, “in Mr. Trump, I see the worst and ugliest iteration of views I expressed for the better part of a decade.” He labeled Trump “a racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia to rouse his base and advance his electoral prospects.” One can fairly wonder what Walsh saw Trump do or say as president that was so unthinkable or unimaginable when he was a candidate in 2016.
As a talk-radio host since leaving Congress, Walsh has offered his own share of heated remarks, including a Tweet declaring, “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you”; a threat to “grab a musket” if Trump lost the presidential election; and a declaration that “I think Obama is a Muslim” in December 2016. Walsh wrote in the Times op-ed that Trump’s rhetoric as president “caused me to change my tone and to reflect upon where I went over the line and to focus on policy differences moving forward.”
These are the potential options for Trump-weary conservatives: a pro-choice former governor who last served in government in 1997 and who was a registered Libertarian three years ago; a former congressman with his own history of scandal and odd behavior who alienated enough GOP constituents to lose his primary; and another former one-term congressman who is denouncing the sort of incendiary rhetoric he himself was using a few years ago.