Here are 5 controversial things Joe Walsh has said

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) announced over the weekend that he will mount a primary challenge against President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE.

Walsh faces an uphill battle, in large part because of Trump’s popularity within the GOP and a competing primary challenge from former Massachusetts Gov. Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump demands Bidens testify Pence files paperwork for Trump to be on New Hampshire ballot Trump primary challengers to be excluded from Minnesota ballot MORE (R), but also because of his history of making controversial comments.


While Walsh has apologized for some of the divisive remarks, they could still haunt the former Illinois lawmaker as he tries to attract moderate voters in the party.

Here are five times Walsh has sparked backlash by making controversial remarks.

Calling Obama a Muslim

Walsh on several occasions has tweeted the conspiracy theory that former President Obama is a Muslim, in addition to tweeting other sentiments generally viewed as anti-Muslim. On Dec. 31, 2016, Walsh tweeted “Obama is a Muslim. Happy New Year!” and tweeted several similar comments. He also disagreed with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro several days earlier when Shapiro said Obama was not a Muslim.

Walsh has since apologized for the comments but suggested Obama was partially to blame, tweeting on Aug. 14, 2019: “I don’t believe Obama is a Muslim. And I continue to apologize for having ever said that. I constantly let my disgust with his policy toward Israel get the better of me. But I don’t believe he was Israel’s friend either.”

In October 2017, Walsh claimed a video of Muslims praying in public was evidence that “Islam has conquered Europe. Without firing a shot.” In February 2018, he praised far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for saying “The decline of Christianity and the rise of Islam is killing Europe.”

Walsh has also apologized for his anti-Muslim remarks, tweeting this week: “I’ve said some hurtful things about Islam. Apologize for that.”

'Grabbing my musket'

Walsh was a vocal supporter of Trump during the 2016 campaign and early in Trump's presidency.

In October 2016, when most political prognosticators still expected Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Top diplomat said request for specific probes in Ukraine was 'contrary' to US policy Feehery: What Republicans must do to adapt to political realignment MORE to win the election, Walsh tweeted: “On November 8th, I'm voting for Trump. On November 9th, if Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket. You in?”

A few days later, when pressed by CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperRepublicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry Johnson dismisses testimony from White House officials contradicting Trump as 'just their impression' Saagar Enjeti: Harris campaign 'is failing because she doesn't stand for anything' MORE on whether he was calling for violent insurrection, Walsh disputed that characterization and said, "It means protesting. Participating in acts of civil disobedience. Doing what it takes to get our country back.”

He made a similar comment in June 2017, tweeting “Screw talks of 'bipartisanship.' This country is at war with itself. Choose your side and choose it now. Grab your musket and get ready.”

Walsh has said he lost faith in Trump after the 2018 Helsinki summit, in which Trump stood next to Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBiden expresses shock that Trump considers attending Russia May Day event Harris swipes at Trump on Russia: 'Always nice to spend time with supporters on the campaign trail' Trump says he's considering attending Russia's May Day parade MORE and said he did not accept that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Questioning the heroism of Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSenate Democrat introduces bill to protect military families from deportation Nuclear command nominee sidesteps questions on arms control treaties Senate Dems ask Trump Organization for information on dealings with Turkey MORE

Walsh, who was elected to Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010, lost his House seat in 2012 to Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who lost both her legs in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2004.


During his reelection bid, Walsh accused Duckworth of over-emphasizing her military service, saying at a July campaign event, "My God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it's the last thing in the world they talk about.”

In response, Duckworth campaign manager Kaitlin Fahey told the Chicago Tribune that Walsh’s comments “insult those who sacrificed to make this country free."

Walsh insisted he didn’t mean to imply Duckworth was not a hero, saying he had “called her a hero hundreds of times.” He lost to Duckworth by 10 percentage points.

Commenting on race and police brutality

Walsh was a frequent critic of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement after he lost his congressional seat and became a talk radio host. In July 2016, after a sniper killed five Dallas police officers and injured nine others, including two civilians, during a protest over the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, Walsh blamed organizers of the protest, who had condemned the killings.

"This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out Black Lives Matter punks. Real America is coming after you,” Walsh tweeted. He later deleted the tweet and said in a follow-up: “I wasn't calling for violence, against Obama or anyone. Obama's words & BLM's deeds have gotten cops killed. Time for us to defend our cops.”

In September 2017, after Stevie Wonder took a knee during a concert in tribute to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police shootings of African Americans, Walsh called the singer “another ungrateful black multimillionaire.”

Shouting at constituents

In a November 2011 town hall event in the Chicago area, Walsh shouted at constituents who suggested more stringent banking regulations were necessary to prevent another financial crisis.

“Don’t blame the banks ... that pisses me off,” Walsh can be heard saying in a recording of the event. When a woman asks Walsh to acknowledge that financial institutions “exploit the situation,” he moves closer to her and engages in a shouting match, concluding by exclaiming “I need more coffee!”

Walsh later said that he apologized to the woman, Melissa Rakestraw, an assertion she disputed. “If he apologized, I missed it,” Rakestraw told the Chicago Tribune.