Congressman! Thanks for doing this.
BS: To start -- can you tell me where you are -- and send a seflie
JW: I’m in my campaign manager’s apartment sitting next to her dogs.
BS: Dogs are welcome in selfie
IMAGE: Joe Walsh smiles into a camera with a dog
You’ve been in the race for 3 days now. What about the experience has surprised you?
JW: The AMOUNT of coverage.
BS: What does that tell you?
JW: That there is a huge hunger out there for someone to publicly expose this President for what he is: unfit.
BS: What’s a substantive policy difference between you and Donald Trump?
JW: He doesn’t give a damn about the debt & deficits. I went to Congress because I was so pissed off about the debt deficits.
BS: You came up in that 2010 Tea Party wave. Trump seems to have shown how little those votes were about spending cuts -- and how much about race and culture and resentment. Do you buy that?
That is was really about race, not $$?
JW: For me and most of us tea party people who went to DC in 2010, spending was ALL it was about. Trump has temporarily killed the tea party and that’s so damn disappointing. Yes, he’s made it about resentment.
BS: You don’t think that was the heart of it, for voters, all along?
JW: No. I think it was a genuine fear for the bankrupting of their kids & grandkids. I think Trump turned that into resenting “others”, and unfortunately, most of those same voters bought into that.
BS: The most pressing issue for a lot of our audience is climate change. Have you changed your views on it?
JW: Yes. It’s an issue I was just blindly partisan about. No more of that. It’s real and It’s an issue that the Republican Party needs a seat at the table with. We need to acknowledge it and begin working on solutions.
BS: What would you do, as president, about the fires in the Amazon
JW: Bring people together, the best experts possible, the Amazon is a key vital environmental treasure on this planet, and I would use my bully pulpit to put a spotlight on the problem. Bring together a coalition of countries.
Get the best experts together because I’m not an expert on the Amazon.
IMAGE: Tweet from @WalshFreedom on 12/31/16 reading: Obama is a Muslim, Happy New Year!
BS: So a lot of your campaign has been about bad tweets. There are so many. I would say -- this one, among many, really bothers me:
I mean … what the hell?
JW: That one bothers me the most. And I look at it and I say “What the hell.”
It’s the tweet I most regret. I let my policy differences with Obama cause me at times to be personal in my attacks against him.
No excuse, and all I can say is that I’m sorry. No, I don’t believe he’s Muslim. I was just taking an ugly cheap shot at him. Of my 40,000 tweets in the past 6 years, this one is my biggest regret.
BS: But why is it an insult to call someone Muslim?
JW: It’s not an insult to call him Muslim. There’s nothing wrong with being Muslim. The insult was that I’m accusing him of lying because he said he’s Christian. That’s why I was wrong to do it.
BS: I’ve never a public figure acknowledge racism like this before:
IMAGE: Tweet from @AaronBlake on 8/26/19 that reads- Joe Walsh on MSNBC: “I wouldn’t call myself a racist, but I’ve said racist things on Twitter.”
BS: Do you think people ought to be more willing to admit to racism? And to forgive it?
JW: Here’s what I’m saying: I think a lot of us have made racist remarks, and certainly those of us in the public eye have to account for things we’ve said. I think we are all capable of being racist at times, even if not purposely. I am no a racist, but certainly I’ve said some racist things. And all I can do is apologize for them. I despise political correctness, which is why I push the envelope on things...especially on issues of race. But at times, I’ve been ignorant to how things I’ve said could inadvertently create an opening for others to use my words to further a racist agenda. I never want things I’m saying to cause hurt of pain to people. The age of Trump certainly has woken me up to that.
Re: forgiveness—I think everyone deserves forgiveness if they show themselves to be genuine. If we can’t forgive, then how can our country move past this incredibly polarized climate? Unwillingness to forgive just entrenches people further. Does that make sense?
BS: I think some people will appreciate that -- and others will think it’s basically just a ploy for attention. Kate Nocera wrote this for us yesterday, and I thought I should let you respond:
TEXT EXCERPT FROM ARTICLE, HIGHLIGHTED TEXT: That’s the true navigating principle of Walsh’s career: He loves attention.
JW: I think that’s bullshit. I have strong beliefs and I say what I believe. Period. That’s all I’ve ever done. And because I have never spoken like a typical politician, go figure...often what I say gets attention. I don’t seek attention. I’m trying to make a difference.
I’m not challenging Trump for attention. This is the most difficult, brutal thing I’ve ever done. I’m getting beat up. I’m doing what I believe is right, I’m pissed off that no other Republican stood up to make the case that Trump is unfit, I couldn’t give a damn about the attention. I wouldn’t put myself through all this for “attention.”
Kate knows that.
BS: Would you say you consider yourself …. woke?
JW: One more thing - doesn’t this just underscore part of the phoniness of politics today? That politicians are supposed to act like they don’t want to attract attention? That’s part of what makes so many politicians so disingenuous. If we are all afraid of the limelight, why the hell would we be in this business?
BS: Haha. Good point.
And -- Woke Joe Walsh?
JW: Yeah, that’s certainly not a moniker I invented, that’s a nickname that started to get passed around last year when I really starting punching at Trump. I think I’ve been clear that I’ve done a lot of self-reflection and changed my tone because I realized that a lot of the rhetoric I was engaging in was actually undermining advancing the policy principles I support. (Hence my comments about rhetoric that helped lead to Trump)
BS: A final question: A lot of your career (and mine) has been on Twitter. On balance, would you say social media has been good for democracy?
JW: Yes. Hell yes. It’s another platform for speech. The more speech the better. I have always recoiled against efforts to stifle speech. Let speech bloom. Don’t shut down hate speech. Defeat hate speech with other speech. Social media gives everyday Americans more access to their elected leaders, and it makes politicians more accountable. Twitter ain’t pretty, but on balance it adds to the flourishing of speech in America.
BS: Thanks for taking the time, Joe!
JW: I really enjoyed it. Anytime.