Former Rep. Joe Walsh went on MSNBC on Monday to boost his challenge to President Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries and acknowledged having said hundreds of “racist things” on Twitter, while maintaining he is not a racist.
“I wouldn’t call myself a racist, but I would say I’ve said racist things on Twitter. There’s no doubt about it. And an apology is not enough,” said Mr. Walsh under pointed questioning on the left-wing network from host John Heilemann.
Mr. Heilemann noted that Mr. Walsh, who represented Illinois’ 8th Congressional District for one term after the 2010 Tea Party wave, had repeatedly said that President Barack Obama was a Muslim.
Mr. Walsh half-defended himself for the falsehood by saying that he was reacting to Mr. Obama’s Israel policies.
“When I said Barack Obama was a Muslim, that was a horrible thing to say, and I said it because I was so disgusted with Obama’s policy toward Israel that I went a bad ugly step,” he said.
“I’ve probably sent out 40,000 tweets in the last six years. No excuse. You and I could sit down and find 200 to 300 that you’d say, ‘Walsh what were you thinking?’ And all I can do is own them and explain them and apologize as sincerely as I can for the ones that deserve an apology.”
But Mr. Heilemann told his guest that, without an admission to being a “stone-cold racist,” apologies aren’t enough because Mr. Walsh helped cause Mr. Trump.
“Look, for a lot of people the fact is the president is a stone cold racist and so are you,” Mr. Heilemann said.
“You can apologize for various things. Apologizing for burping at the table or using the wrong fork with your main course is different from offering some kind of genuine recognition that not just, ‘I said some things that are offensive,’ but that I’m a racist. I said racist stuff,” he added.