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tv   Campaign 2020 Interview with Joe Walsh  CSPAN  December 5, 2019 11:45pm-12:20am EST

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friday on c-span, the house returns at 9:00 a.m. for a resolution regarding the israeli-palestinian conflict and a bill on voting rights. that is on c-span. at 5:30, pete buttigieg speaks to students in iowa. at 9:00 a.m. on c-span2, the cato institute's holding a surveillance conference. on c-span3 at 9:30, the house financial services sub committee examines the impact of artificial intelligence on capital markets. at 12:30, retired army general john nicholson, commander of u.s. and nato forces in afghanistan, speaks on defense and diplomacy in that country. republican candidate joe walsh is a talk radio host and former illinois congressman. he sat down with c-span to talk about why he is challenging president trump and his
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displeasure with fellow republicans. this is 30 minutes. is former illinois congressman and republican presidential candidate joe walsh. thanks for being here. my opening question, why are you running? be with you,od to steve. i'm running because i think donald trump is unfit. i think he is a danger to this country. incumbenta sitting president is a pretty big deal. it is a tough thing to do. you had better have a good reason for doing it. and i do. i think trump is a danger. i think the country would be in real trouble with four more years of him. steve: this is in contrast to what you wrote in twitter in 2016, saying "i'm voting for trump on november 9. if trump is losing i -- if trump loses i'm grabbing my musket." mr. walsh: my infamous musket
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tweet. i didn't love or like trump. he wasn't hillary, so i think a think, it wascans an easy vote. i figured at that time trump is a goof but maybe he will appoint a few good people and maybe a few good things might happen. i realized pretty quickly after he got elected that almost every time he opened his mouth, he told a lie. we have a president who is incapable of telling the truth. when he first got elected i was on the radio, a nationally syndicated radio host. i tried to do the good trump-bad trump thing, when he did something good i would praise him and when he did something that i would slap him upside the head. that didn't last long because again, we have a president who can't tell the truth. when i am on the trail, i say donald trump is unfit.
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what i mean by that is, i don't think he is capable of telling the truth. i think that is a danger. i think he is incapable of putting the country's interest ahead of his own. we see that play out with the ukraine scandal now. that is a danger, to have a president who simply can't place anybody's interest ahead of his own. that is a scary thing. the houseyou were in of representatives today, would you vote for the articles of impeachment as outlined by nancy pelosi? mr. walsh: in a heartbeat. i don't think it is a close call. understand, i felt like trump deserved to be impeached after i read the mueller report. that is how crazy this is. the mueller report seems like 100 years ago. it just came out last april and it clearly showed the president
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not only welcomed and encouraged a foreign government to screw with our elections, but the same president obstructed the very investigation into what russia did. fast forward a few months, here we are, i don't even know why we are having this discussion. once again, the president of the united states this time pressured another foreign government to screw with our elections. if that is not impeachable, i don't know what is. here is what is sad. if i were still in the house, i would vote to impeach and i've would probably be the only republican to vote to impeach. that is sad because i know most of my former colleagues feel the same way about trump that i do. they are just afraid to say it. many: why are so republicans in the house and senate in lockstep with president trump? you look at national polls among republicans, his approval is
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anywhere from 85%-90%. mr. walsh: they are not afraid of trump. they are in lockstep with trump because they are afraid of his .oters they think trump is a more on. they think he is incompetent. they think he is a serial liar. they think what i think. they are afraid of trump's voters. we talk about the fact that 80%, 90% of republicans support trump . i think that is deceptive and i think that support is really soft. i'm in new hampshire today. i was in iowa a couple days ago. i'm not exaggerating when i say that about 70%-80% of the republicans that i speak with, they all say the same thing, i like some of the things trump has done but i am sick and tired of him. i'm exhausted. i'm tired of all of his ds. i'm tired of his cruelty.
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i don't want four more years of it. i hear that over and over from republicans. steve: what do you need to do in iowa and new hampshire? i know your competitor is also former governor bill weld of massachusetts. you have talked to him. what are you looking at? mr. walsh: i have to let all of these republicans who are genuinely sick of trump, and this is really important because they tell me this area they will it knowledge like i will, i voted for trump. fathom enduring another four years of the donald trump soap opera. what i have to do is let them know that there is an alternative. i'm a conservative, i am a tea party conservative. you will get a lot of the good conservative policy that you want republican voters, but you won't get the cruel tweets, you
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are not going to get, it is all about me every single day. this is the biggest problem with trump. he doesn't give a damn about anything but himself so we won't get anything done on climate, we won't get anything done on health care or infrastructure because it is the donald trump show. i have to be an alternative for them. it is not easy. those let's take some of issues. climate change. from your standpoint is it a serious threat? mr. walsh: yes. it is real, it exists, it is a threat and we need to do something about it. that is, it is said to say, steve, but in today's politics, that is a fairly courageous thing for a republican to say because donald trump calls climate change a hoax. trump. like the cult of i have said before, my republican party, it is not a party, it is a cult of
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personality. most of my former colleagues, republicans, they understand time it changes something we need to do something about. it israel. they are afraid to say anything about the issue has trump calls it a hoax. here is what i know. we need to be at the table. people like me who believe in american innovation, we believe in american entrepreneurship, we believe in america solving problems, not always by the hand of big government, we need to it owledge climateknl change is real and look for solutions. steve: would you support any type of gun control legislation? if so, what? .r. walsh: sure what is interesting is, i'm a huge second amendment guy. i'm a big gun guy. there is no more pro-gun person in the country than me.
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but, on. if i go across the street and i buy a gun from a licensed gun to undergo ae federal background check. it makes sense to me that if i buy a gun online or by a gun at have toow, i would undergo that background check. what our focus should be, keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. not going after the 99.9% of gun owners who are legal, law abiding gun owners. i think the notion of universal background checks is an idea that both sides can come together run. steve: you were critical of president obama, saying his policies were bankrupting the country. i mentioned that because as you look at the deficit today exceeding $23 trillion, moving at a higher rate under this president, a republican, which democrats in the house,
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republicans in the senate. how do you stem the tide? wordalsh: my friend, not a from my former republican colleagues. you are right. i went after obama hard. sometimes i went after obama too hard and i apologized for some of that. when it came to the debt, when obama was president every time our debt increased and our deficits increased, myself and my former conservative colleagues, we would hold a press conference and we would rate for -- rate him over the coals. president trump's increasing the debt at a faster clip than barack obama and the republicans don't say squat. look. the reality is, the driver of our debt is health care. our entitlement programs. are 23 trillion dollars in debt. the american people are living longer and longer.
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that is a good thing, but how do we pay for all of that health livingr americans longer? we have to as a country have that conversation because if we don't do something about soaring health care costs in this country, we will never get out of this debt. very critical of president obama was mick mulvaney, now the white house chief of staff. how is he doing on this issue? mr. walsh: he is failing. but steve, mick mulvaney and i were friends. jim jordan and i were friends. i don't recognize these people anymore. i really don't. know what donald trump did is wrong. they know donald trump acts like he is above the law. they know donald trump acts like a dictator. fearedow our founders foreign influence in our elections, yet mick mulvaney and it is son, it's like,
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disappointing. it's like all of my former colleagues, and this is a strong thing to say, but it is like they have sold their souls. i just don't understand that. they know what, they know donald trump doesn't give a darn about the debt but they don't say that. it is like they have sold their soul to be accepted by this president. i find that so discouraging. steve: you said you were a little too hard at times towards president obama. cite one example where you had to apologize. on the radio, i called barack obama a muslim. something for which i have profoundly apologized. and announcedout about three months ago that i am running for president and when i it, i in essence also help bringing us
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donald trump. when i went to washington in 2010, i was part of the tea party class and we went there to stop all of this government spending. we went there to fight and i was at the tip of the spear, fighting thing -- fighting for things i believed in. over the horse of the last 7, 8, nine years, i got over my skis in that fight, got away from the policy and i engaged in ugly personal attacks, not just against barack obama that against other people who i disagreed with personally. -- i regret aw lot of the things i said and i believe some of the hateful politics that i practiced and others practiced, i think it helped ring us donald trump, who is like the personification of ugly personal politics. i have learned since trump has been elected, i am done doing that.
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i don't want to bring gauge and that kind of ugly rhetoric anymore. i want to just have respectful conversations and debates about policy. steve: to that point, let's provide historical perspective because as you look at the civil rights legislation of the 1960's, social security reform a reagan ander ronald welfare reform in the 1990's, that required democrats and republicans sitting at the table with bipartisan legislation. how do we get back to that point in washington? we have to take the first up, which is get rid of the guy in the white house, because as long as donald trump whether i defeat him in the primary or a democrat defeat him, he has got to go. as long as donald trump is there, will be only about donald trump. there will be no big policy debate and discussion. it will be trump 24-7.
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then we get rid of trump, trump is gone, then what democrats and republicans have to learn again is how to debate and fight about issues respectively and learn how to come together. whoever the next president is, they are going to have to try to unify the country. maybe somebody like me, who has been involved in the fights and , mayben pretty divisive it will take someone like me to say that is wrong and we have to come together. but look, we have a country that is bankrupt. we have big, profound issues of health care and immigration and ,limate, to just name a few that we have to have both parties sitting at the table. it is going to take real presidential leadership to bring both parties together. steve: let's talk about you born in illinois. the fifth of nine children. what was it like growing up for you and your family?
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mr. walsh: it was a lot of fun. you come from a big family. it was a lot of fun. it is a lot of fun now when all the kids, when all my siblings are all older and they have kids and we have grandkids, it's like you have eight or nine great friends. i love the big family, i love my mom and dad, they both passed away within the past year and a half. my mom loved politics. she gave me my love her politics. lovedft john adams -- john adams, and i loved thomas jefferson. i miss the debates we would have about jefferson and adams. she gave her my love for politics. steve: how so? mr. walsh: she was a historian through and through. my mom, who raised nine kids, seven boys, the longest lasting image i will always have of my mom, and maybe it was this way my mom waseve,
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always a less to go to bed and the first one to get up. my image of my mom is always at 11:00, for midnight, -- or midnight or 1:00 a.m. after she had cared for us all day, my mom, with a book, often times with a cigarette, in her room, reading a book until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. read, shend read and ate up american history, which settled down to me, because american history is my greatest love. steve: why did you decide to enter politics both in illinois and at the federal level as a member of congress? mr. walsh: you know what? have always been fairly libertarian and free-market oriented. i worried even since i was a young man that we have moved away from the country are funding fathers gave us. -- our founding fathers gave us.
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we ask government to do too much and government has gotten too big. i wanted to get involved in politics to try to remind americans of what our founders envisioned. an america where you had a good government that was there to do certain things, but an america with a vibrant state and local government, vibrant charities, vibrant churches. but we have gotten away from that. i want to just sort of teach people about what america was at its founding. you are the father of five children, how did you meet your wife? i know she has been in politics, as well. , mywalsh: in my second life she is my-
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second wife. becoming a congressman, then on the radio around the country and speaking around the country, i am a lousy detail guy. somebody needs to be with me or i will not know how to walk straight. she has been a wonderful partner. you mentioned she has been in politics, as well. she was appointed last year as an illinois state representative, which was quite an honor. she served out that term. she loves it, as well. as i do this,eat, having a partner with me. steve: where did you go to college? mr. walsh: i went to grinnell college in the middle of iowa for 2.5 years and then i transferred to the university of iowa, and that is where i graduated with an english degree a long time ago. steve: that gives you an understanding of the caucus state -- first in the nation caucus state, correct? mr. walsh: it really does.
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we have been to iowa a bunch and i will be there the next month and a half more. i love new hampshire, as well. i love iowa. iowa, they love to be very independent, and they love to be very informed. they actually want to meet candidates for president. it is really cool, they take their politics there is seriously. steve: what do your children think of this venture? running for the republican presidential nomination? mr. walsh: you know, they think it is kind of crazy in a good way. they think it is a lot. none of my kids are very political. they follow it and they hope for the best, and they are praying for me and all the rest, but look, like a lot of my friends and a lot of my siblings, steve, this is a big deal. that everybody just wakes up and
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going to take on the sitting president of the united states." ofkids were surprise, a lot people were surprised, but they are there for me. steve: what would your parents think of this? mr. walsh: my parents loved and would love having me as a member of congress. i know my mom and dad well enough to know that upon learning of this, both of them would want to slap me a little jelly, my god, do you really know what you are doing? there would be some initial concern, but then as they saw me dive into this and they saw me talking aboutcnn what i believe in and they saw me in new hampshire and iowa, my mom and dad would he rooting for me. but they would always be worried about their little joey. steve: do you know what you are
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doing? what is your path to the nomination? mr. walsh: [laughter] that's a great question. do i know what i am doing, yes. i want to get this out of the way right away. why am i doing this? because i want to win. i want to become the republican nominee. again, this has been the most difficult thing i have ever done in my life. i gave away a life to do this. i threw away my livelihood to do this. i get for its everyday -- threats everyday and every week around the country from people. i am doing it to win. i am not dumb or blind or naive. i know it is going to be difficult to win, but yes we have a shot, even with eight republican party bosses in eight states to date have basically canceled primaries. i mean, disenfranchised republican voters. i am against an establishment
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that is trying to protect a very vulnerable king. we are going to work our fannies off. steve: why is the rnc not a fair are richer this process from your standpoint? is that the party of donald trump? mr. walsh: it is not a party, it is a cold of personality -- cult of personality. the republican party is not a party that believes in any ideals and principles. it is a party that worships at the feet of donald trump. the party establishment is doing that. these party bosses, to protect their king. that is what they believe he is. they are eliminating elections. i think they are doing it, steve, because they are scared to death that he is vulnerable. they know like i know that donald trump a erratic and reckless and dishonest. they know like i know that the republican party bosses don't know where donald trump is going to be in a month or two.
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they don't know what trump is going to say in the middle of february. they are worried, they know he is vulnerable. because of that, they don't want joe walsh on the ballot in all of the states. they don't want trump to have any competition. steve: there will not be a republican primary debate. the president has already said that. if you were on the debate stage with the president, what would be your biggest argument to him? mr. walsh: i would ask him why he lies so much. and when he says he doesn't like, i would pull out a sheet of paper steve, and i would tell him, show him the first lie he told. i would ask him why he lied. then when he won't answer that, i would ask him about his next lie. i would ask him why, because i consider this to be so profound. i don't care what your politics ,re, conservative, liberal republican, democrat, we cannot as a people accept the president
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who lies every time he opens his mouth. i would call this president on that. it.i demand that he answer i would not move on until he acknowledges that he told a lie. steve: if a radio listener called into your program and set years into hise president, donald trump has met what as a country, how would you answer that? he is what our founding fathers feared. that is what i would tell that color. this country that we all love was founded because our founders rebelled against taking. -- against a king. rebelled against somebody who considered himself to be above the law. now, 240 some years later, in the very white house right now,
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we have somebody who considers himself to be above the law. that is more important than where you stand on health care or immigration or debt. we cannot have a king or a dictator in this country. that is what i would tell that color. steve: me ask you about some of his biggest supporters, including a former republican colleague in the house, mike pence. his performance on the job has been what in your mind? mr. walsh: it has been embarrassing. again, i served with mike pence, i like mike pence, but he is a donald trump enabler. hadow that if mike pence publicly told you the truth of what he thought about donald trump, he would say almost everything i am saying about donald trump. mike pence would say that. lindsey graham would say that. rand paul would say that. they would all say about donald
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trump what i say about donald trump. they are afraid to say it publicly now. that is what they believe. they are all trump enablers right now. steve: would you put sean hannity and fox news in the same category? mr. walsh: sean hannity is an idiot, but yeah. sean hannity is probably in the same category, they are just cheerleaders. people like hannity, fox news, and look, let's be real, it is the world i come from, conservative radio. if i were still a congressman, i would vote to impeach this president. they would be a norm is pressure put on me as a republican congressman if i am beach this president. -- if i impeach this president. i lived with enormous pressure radiobeing a conservative host. the company i work for, they hops every week
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to only thing trumps phrases and say that he is the greatest. that is what you have to do in conservative talk radio if you want great ratings, that is what hannity does, that is what all the rest do. i could never do that, because i could only just say what i believe. but they are all trump servants and sycophants. steve: as you talk to people and they look at the root causes of the partisanship and bitterness in america politics, they impart look at congressional districts and are mentoring. -- and gerrymandering. how would you fix the system? mr. walsh: you got to get the decision every 10 years out of the hands of politicians. period. i come from a state, illinois, controlcrats illinois. decision outt that
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of the hands of politicians, put commission, as of bipartisan commission every 10 years, put it in the hands of computers. the state of iowa, by the way, i think that is the commission route. when you look at iowa, the congressional districts almost look like squares and rectangles. we have to get it out of the hands of politicians. steve: when voters look at joe walsh, what do they need to know about you as a person? mr. walsh: that i am passionate, i have got strong beliefs, and over the course of the last eight to nine years, i have passionately argued are the things i believe in, and often times, i said things in those debates in fights that i apologize for. i havei call myself -- been like an outlaw in that i have fought hard for things i believe in, but now, these past
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two or three years, i am a reformed outlaw, because they understand how i have helped divide the country, and i understand now that we have to do one hell of a job uniting this country, and as a reformed outlaw, whether i win or lose this election, i am going to do what i can to help unite the country coming from someone who e deep in the sites. -- in these fights. steve: -- mr. walsh: i have been told not to give the media a number. right now with impeachment, all everybody is talking about his impeachment. it is hard for me to get attention, it is hard for the candidates to get
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attention right now for president in this impeachment world. what i am doing is i am in iowa, new hampshire, i have my head down, and talking to iowa voters. want, i want the night of the iowa caucus, i what republican voters all around the country to wake up the next morning and say, oh well, there is somebody running against donald trump, wow, there is another alternative to trump. that has to be the story coming out of iowa. i have got an idea of what that number needs to be, but that is how i want republicans all over the country to react to iowa. steve: one final personal note, you talked about your parents, your wife, who shaped you? who influenced you the most in terms of your ideology and political beliefs? mr. walsh: i am going to give you may be a bad answer. it is nobody personally. maybe i got this from my mom.
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i just read so much from an early age, and i followed politics so much from an early age, that people like barry goldwater influenced me, people like margaret thatcher influence me, ronald reagan, i went to college with ronald reagan. a lot of reagan influenced me. a lot of free-market thinkers influence my politics. steve: what has surprised you the most on the campaign trail so far? mr. walsh: how receptive republican voters have been to one alternative to trump -- an alternative to trump, but i have to be honest, what surprised me that, howd parcel to difficult the republican party establishment has been. i knew they were not going to welcome me with open arms, but i have been blown away with how
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difficult they have made this process. how the length that they have trump -- it'stect made it really difficult. i have been surprised by that. steve: joe walsh, he is joining newrom the primary state of hampshire. thank you for being with us here on c-span. we appreciate it. mr. walsh: it is always great to be with you, my friend. thank you. announcer: for a campaign 2020, we are live in iowa halloween the democratic presidential candidates. on friday at 5:30 p.m. eastern, pete buttigieg speaks with college students at a town hall event at grinnell college. saturday at 3:00 p.m. eastern, former vice president joe biden, mayor pete buttigieg, and senators amy klobuchar, bernie sanders, and cory booker speak at a labor for him in cedar
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rapids. at 1:00 p.m. eastern, senator bernie sanders speaks with supporters in a college in indianola. campaign 2020 coverage this weekend on c-span. watch anytime at and listen on the free c-span radio app on the go. c-span's washington journal. coming up friday morning, we will discuss the latest on impeachment and the december 20 government funding deadline with scott perry, and later with henry cuellar. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 eastern friday morning. join the discussion. of "china rx: exposing the risks of america's dependence on china for medicine ." and senior


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