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Joe Walsh ends GOP primary challenge to Trump

Former U.S. Rep. Joe WalshJoe WalshThe Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? GOP lawmakers mourn death of Rush Limbaugh Sacha Baron Cohen pens op-ed on the dangers of conspiracy theories MORE (R-Ill.) has ended his primary campaign against President TrumpDonald TrumpSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Navajo Nation president on Arizona's new voting restrictions: An 'assault' on our rights The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez MORE for the Republican Party's 2020 presidential nomination, after receiving just one percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.

Walsh announced the end of his longshot campaign on CNN's "New Day."

"I am ending my candidacy for president of the United States," he told CNN's John Berman. "I got into this because I thought it was really important that there was a Republican — a Republican — out there every day calling out this president for how unfit he is."

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Walsh also said that he views Trump as “a threat” to the country, but that he can’t be stopped “within the Republican Party.” 

“It’s Trump’s party,” he added. “It’s not a party, it’s a cult.”

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He pledged to support the Democratic candidate nominated to run against Trump.

"I would rather have, John Berman, a socialist in the White House than a dictator, than a king, than Donald Trump," he told CNN host Berman.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldThe Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Ralph Gants, chief justice of Massachusetts supreme court, dies at 65 The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden visits Kenosha | Trump's double-voting suggestion draws fire | Facebook clamps down on election ads MORE (R) is now the only Republican primary candidate still challenging Trump for the nomination. 

Walsh faced an uphill climb in his primary bid. Republicans have largely united behind Trump since the real estate mogul and former reality TV star won the party’s presidential nomination in 2016, and several state Republican Parties have already taken steps to ensure that the president is the only candidate on their primary ballots.

But the longshot primary challenges from both Walsh and Weld highlighted lingering concerns about Trump and his brand of politics among some Republicans, who worry that the party has strayed from the principles of fiscal conservatism and limited government that it preached for decades.

Walsh, a conservative talk radio host whose career has been speckled with controversy, was first elected to the House in 2010 when Republicans, united in opposition to then-President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Kid reporter who interviewed Obama dies at 23 Obama shares video of him visiting Maryland vaccination site GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump MORE’s agenda and propelled by the Tea Party movement, recaptured control of the House.

Walsh’s tenure in Washington was short. He was unseated by Democrat Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthBipartisan Senate bill introduced to give gyms B in relief Duckworth says food stamps let her stay in high school If you want Julie Su at the DOL, don't point to her resume MORE, now a U.S. senator, in his first reelection bid in 2012. He began hosting a talk radio program – “The Joe Walsh Show” – in 2013, just months after leaving Congress.

Walsh was publicly supportive of Trump’s presidential bid in 2016, but eventually turned against the president. In a video announcing his campaign last year, Walsh said that Trump was “unfit” for the office that he holds.

“We have someone in the White House who we all know is unfit. Someone who lies virtually every time he opens his mouth and someone who places his own interest above the nation’s interest at every single turn. We cannot afford four more years of Donald Trump. No way,” Walsh said.

 

Updated at 8:29 a.m.