The last time we caught up with Joe Walsh, he had just announced his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, joining an anemic primary field that included only Bill Weld, whom you’ve perhaps never heard of. Since then, amid impeachment and war with Iran, the field gained and lost Mark Sanford and the Republican Party canceled its nominating contests in multiple states, locking up the already sure thing of President Donald Trump on the ticket. What little polling there is suggests there’s no appetite on the right for an alternative to the incumbent, but, ever the masochist, Walsh is soldiering on — and now he’s got a book to sell. I caught up with Walsh via text message while he flew to New Hampshire (where he’s polling at, like, one percent) to discuss his book (due out February 18) and why he’s doing this at all.
When did the book project come about? Had you always planned on doing a book during this campaign?
It came about right around my announcement, back around Labor Day. No, I was not planning on doing a book during this campaign.
What are you accomplishing with the book that you can’t accomplish on Twitter, in press interviews, or on the campaign trail?
It’s just one more very public platform to make my case that Trump is unfit, he’s everything our Founders feared, and he’s a danger to the country. A book may reach people my campaign won’t.
A cynic (me) might look at this and think, Oh duh, of course he was going to use this campaign to sell books and profit! What do you say to that cynic?
This campaign has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I lost my livelihood, I lost almost all of my friends and supporters, and I get threats every day. I did this because SOME Republican needs to be calling Trump unfit every day.
If I were interested in making a profit off of Trump, I’d be like everybody else in talk radio, kiss his ass, say he’s the greatest, and I’d be really popular, I’d be on Fox News all the time, and I’d write a book like Don Jr. and make millions.
I decided to run because somebody had to do it and because I wanted to do my part to stop him. I didn’t even consider a book until someone put it in front of me after I announced.
To be clear, the book project came about AFTER I announced.
What was the writing process like?
It wasn’t an easy book for me to write, because I’m a conservative, and I’m basically saying I’d rather have a socialist in the White House than a dictator like Trump. I don’t know how profitable that viewpoint will be, but it’s what I believe.
Had to get it done quickly to get my message of “Don’t stay silent, stop Trump” out there to impact the 2020 campaign.
But the theme of the book is the theme of my campaign (“Be brave and speak up”), so it flowed really easily.
Do you spend much time in the book grappling with your initial support for Trump?
Yes. It’s what makes my voice somewhat unique. I’m not a typical Never Trumper. The populism that got him elected was a big part of my following.
You’ve been in the race for several months now. What has changed over that time?
Impeachment. It’s been good and bad. Good because it buttresses the case I’m making against Trump; bad because it’s hardened support for him among his hard-core base.
It’s been so damn tough to raise money. Most Republican donors don’t like Trump, but they’ve been afraid to give to me.
The whole Never Trump world hasn’t stepped up like I thought they would. So many people wanted a primary challenger to Trump, but few have put their money where their mouth is. I’ve acknowledged that I’m not a perfect candidate, but the perfect candidates didn’t step up.
I wish I had Bloomberg’s money, because I truly believe, based on all my conversations on the ground with GOP voters, that they’ve grown exhausted with Trump. Most Republicans are tired of the Donald Trump show, but they don’t know I’m a viable alternative. With more resources, I could make that case.
I’m not naïve, but I never thought the party bosses and Trump would cancel primaries in nine states. That’s been stunning and made things tough.
Do you see a legitimate path forward?
Just landed. Sorry.
Yes. As long as I’m in this thing, I’m trying to win.
The path: Surprise people with a really good showing in Iowa, follow that up with a strong showing in NH, and then money comes in and we take the fight to him on Super Tuesday, where he’s weak in some states.
Difficult? Yes. Doable? Yes.
But as I told you a while back, I wouldn’t do this unless I thought there was a path.
Lastly, quality-wise, how would you rank the following books: your book, The Art of the Deal, Triggered, Atlas Shrugged, the Bible, and Animal Farm.
For the purposes of my ranking criteria, I don’t consider Triggered and The Art of the Deal to be books. My ranking, based on the impact for the good these books have had or could have on humanity, would be:
1. The Bible
2. Atlas Shrugged
3. Animal Farm
4. My book