WASHINGTON (AFP) – A second Republican last Sunday entered the fray to battle Donald Trump for the party’s presidential nomination in 2020 – an indication of the simmering dissent and division among GOP faithful.
Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, 57, threw his hat in the ring in an appearance on the weekly US political talk shows, joining moderate former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who announced his candidacy in April.
Walsh was a foot soldier in the Tea Party revolution of 2010, helping push the Republican establishment in a more radical, anti-immigrant and populist direction – opening the door for Trump’s eventual ascent to seize the nomination in 2016 in defiance of the party’s mainstream.
Following his unusual rise to power, the president now presides over a solid base of support that seems nearly impervious to the controversies he constantly generates.
But Walsh, who is now a conservative talk radio host, says he is ready to do battle.
“I’m running because he’s unfit. Somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative,” Walsh said on ABC’s This Week.
“The country is sick of this guy’s tantrums. He’s a child.”
A small but vocal camp of “Never Trumper” Republicans has hoped to recruit a political heavyweight to take Trump on – if not to deprive him of the nomination, then at least to highlight their doubts and show that his domination of the party is not complete.
Along with Weld and Walsh, a handful of other Republicans have indicated interest in a challenge to Trump.
They include former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, who has said he will decide by early September, and former Tennessee senator Bob Corker.
Another Republican moderate, former Ohio congressman John Kasich – the last Republican to oppose Trump in the 2016 primaries – has often been mentioned.
Walsh said the reason more Republicans were not publicly opposing Trump was that “they’re afraid. Because they’re scared to death.”