Joe Walsh: Everything you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidate

Walsh ended his long-shot bid to challenge days after the Iowa caucuses.

February 7, 2020, 2:58 PM

Joe Walsh, a former Illinois congressman and syndicated conservative talk radio host, announced his run as a Republican candidate for president in August 2019, telling ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview on "This Week" that he was making a moral case against the man he once supported.

Out of the running: Three days after the Iowa caucuses, Walsh ended his long-shot bid to challenge President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.

"I’ve suspended my campaign because I’ve concluded that no one can beat Trump in a Republican nomination -- not me, not anyone," Walsh said in a statement. "That was crystal clear to me this week when I stood in front of 3,000 Iowa Republicans and was booed and jeered at for saying we deserve a president who is honest, decent and puts the country first. The Republican party has become a cult."

Name: William Joseph Walsh

Party: Republican

Date of birth: Dec. 27, 1961

Age: 58

Hometown: North Barrington, Illinois

Family: Walsh is married to Helene Walsh, a former Republican member of the Illinois House of Representatives. He was previously married to Laura Walsh. He has three children and two step-children.

Education: Walsh received his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa and his master's in public policy from the University of Chicago.

PHOTO: Joe Walsh speaks at a debate in N.Y., Sept. 24, 2019.
Joe Walsh speaks at a debate in N.Y., Sept. 24, 2019.
Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters, FILE

What he does now: He was the host of "The Joe Walsh Show" until national distribution of his show was canceled after he launched his presidential campaign.

What he used to do: Walsh served a single term in the House, representing the 8th Congressional District of Illinois from 2011 to 2013. He was defeated in his reelection bid by Tammy Duckworth, who now serves as a U.S. senator. After leaving office, he launched the Grow and Be Free Super PAC to back conservative candidates and act as an alternative to Republican super PACs who were backing establishment candidates. The group shut down in 2015, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Key life/career moments:

Walsh was elected to the House in 2010 amid a wave of tea party support.

After leaving Washington, Walsh began hosting a Chicago-based conservative radio talk show in 2013. Salem Media Group began distributing the show nationally in 2017.

Walsh has long history of incendiary and controversial statements ranging from using racist slurs on Twitter to promoting falsehoods around former President Barack Obama's birth certificate and religion. When Stephanopoulos asked him in August if he really believed that Obama is Muslim, Walsh replied, "God no. And I have apologized for that." Walsh has been apologetic about his past statements since announcing his presidential bid.

As recently as 2017, he tweeted about Sen. Kamala Harris: "Senator Kamala Harris said something really dumb. Meh. If you're black and a woman, you can say dumb things. Lowered bar."

"That is kind of textbook racism and sexism," Stephanopoulos told Walsh on "This Week" in August. The former congressman responded by saying Trump's time in office has made him "reflect on some of the things I have said in the past."

Where he stands on some of the issues:

On his campaign website, he writes that he is a conservative and then, as he lists his position on the issues, he compares himself to President Donald Trump. For example, he wrote that he believes in the power of the Second Amendment but hates to see "that right being abused by violent people, some who have stated Trump was an inspiration for their violence." He added that he supports universal background checks.

He wrote that he was appalled when Obama separated families at the border and is "repulsed that Trump has expanded our immigration policy to include inhumanely separating children from their parents and locking people in cages."

Walsh also said on his campaign site that he believes in the benefits of free trade and that "we should not be putting in tariffs that punish American industries, builders, consumers, and families."

Walsh has acknowledged there's little chance his candidacy will result in Trump losing the party nomination and he has focused on offering Republican voters an alternative vision for the party.


Since the start of his campaign in August, Walsh has raised almost $235,000 and has spent a little over half of that -- nearly $120,000 -- on operating expenditures, according to Federal Election Commission data. By comparison, Trump has raised over $165 million since officially registering as a candidate in 2017.

What you might not know about him:

In 2018, actor Sacha Baron Cohen, posing as a fake Israeli "anti-terror expert" on Showtime's "Who Is America?," fooled Walsh and other conservative figures to voice support for arming children as a solution to school shootings.

Walsh said that during his term in Congress he refused his congressional health benefits and pension. He was also known for living in his office rather than moving into a Washington-area residence.

In 2012, another Joe Walsh -- the Eagles' guitarist -- endorsed Duckworth for Congress when she ran against the incumbent Walsh to represent the 8th Congressional District of Illinois.

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