Former Rep. Joe Walsh. | Julius Constantine Motal, File/AP Photo
Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh on Friday announced he has dropped out of the 2020 Republican presidential primary, describing the modern GOP as a “cult” and concluding that President Donald Trump “can’t be stopped” from within his own party.
“Look, I got into this because I thought it was really important that there was a Republican — a Republican — out there every day calling out this president for how unfit he is,” Walsh told host John Berman on CNN’s “New Day.”
“I want to stop Trump. I believe he’s a threat to this country. He can’t be stopped within the Republican Party. Nobody can beat him,” Walsh continued. “It’s Trump’s party, John. It’s not a party, it’s a cult. He can’t be beaten in the Republican primary, so there’s no reason for me — or any candidate, really — to be in there. The party has become a cult.”
Walsh’s quixotic campaign, which he teased and launched in August, was stymied by the president’s consistently high approval ratings among Republicans and the canceling of several states’ 2020 GOP primaries and caucuses to aid Trump’s reelection effort.
In seeking to deny Trump a second term, Walsh frequently lobbed rhetorical fireballs at the White House and received new scrutiny for controversial comments he made during his tenure in Congress and later as a conservative radio show host.
Walsh’s exit from the White House race comes days after an abysmal performance in the Iowa Republican caucuses, which Trump won overwhelmingly. Walsh achieved 1.1 percent of voters and Trump’s other GOP rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, garnered 1.3 percent.
Walsh is the second Republican candidate to end his primary campaign against the president. Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford scrapped his short-lived bid in November, just 60 days after it began. Trump in September dismissed his trio of challengers for the Republican nomination as a “total joke” and a “laughingstock.”