Former Illinois representative Joe Walsh, who is challenging President Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination, called his own party a “cult” on Monday as several states canceled their GOP primary elections for next year.
“I’ve given up on the Republican Party. The Republican Party is a cult,” Walsh said on CNN. “They no longer stand for ideals. The Republican Party right now is all about washing their leaders’ feet every day, that’s what they do.”
Walsh pledged to campaign anyway in the states where the primaries were canceled, arguing that the voters will demand that their party leaders put the primaries back on the calendar.
“We’re gonna campaign in all 50 states,” Walsh promised. “We’re gonna campaign in South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Kansas, because I believe if we let these Republican voters know that the president of the United States just took away their right to vote, they’ll march on the headquarters of their state parties and to get that right to vote back.”
The two other Republican candidates challenging Trump in the Republican primary have also voiced outrage over the four states canceling their primaries as a show of support for Trump.
Writing in a joint op-ed for the Washington Post Friday, all three candidates — Walsh, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld — slammed the move by the Republican Party as a “disgrace.”
“In the United States, citizens choose their leaders,” the candidates wrote. “The primary nomination process is the only opportunity for Republicans to have a voice in deciding who will represent our party. Let those voices be heard.”
Sanford has even floated the possibility of pursuing legal action against the state parties that canceled their state’s primaries. State party officials have argued that they canceled the primaries to divert critical resources into other races.
It is not unprecedented for the party with an incumbent in the White House to cancel its presidential primaries. The Republican Party canceled 10 primaries in 2004 to protect George W. Bush and the Democrats did the same in 2012 for Barack Obama.
Business Insider will be hosting the first Republican presidential debate of this election cycle broadcast on Facebook, although only Walsh and Weld have so far agreed to participate.