Joe Walsh, a talk radio host and former congressman, said on Sunday he would challenge Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.
“We have someone in the White House who we all know is unfit,” Walsh said in a video announcing his candidacy. Walsh said Trump “lies virtually every time he opens his mouth” and places his own interests over those of the country.
Walsh, 57, served one term as a Republican representative from Illinois between 2011 and 2013 before losing his bid for re-election. Initially an enthusiastic supporter of Trump, he has latterly been one of the president’s most vocal conservative critics.
He becomes the second former elected official to make a long-shot attempt to wrest the Republican nomination from Trump, who according to recent polls has an approval rating among Republicans as high as 88%.
The president’s other challenger – Bill Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts and the Libertarian candidate for vice-president in 2016 – has struggled to gain a foothold in his campaign and trails Trump in polls by 72 percentage points, according to an average compiled by RealClearPolitics.
Sunday’s announcement represented a sharp turnaround for Walsh, who in October 2016 declared on Twitter that “if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket”.
Walsh was elected to the House of Representatives in the “Tea Party wave” midterm elections of November 2010, when rightwing conservatives spearheaded a backlash against Barack Obama’s presidency.
He came under sharp criticism during his time in Congress for saying he could not afford to pay child support to his ex-wife, despite lending $35,000 to his congressional campaign fund.