by Ellie Bufkin & Mike Brest | October 26, 2019
Three Republicans interested in challenging President Trump for the 2020 party nomination clashed loudly over whether or not Trump should be impeached.
In a Saturday morning panel discussion at the 2019 POLITICON in Nashville, billed as a "Republican Presidential Candidate Discussion," long-shot GOP candidates Bill Weld, Mark Sanford, and Joe Walsh strongly disagreed how Congress should move forward with impeachment proceedings against the president.
While all candidates agreed that the best path forward for the Republican Party and the country was to have Trump out of office, former South Carolina Gov. Sanford suggested that the most effective measure would be to avoid impeachment. Sanford suggested that impeachment might pass through the House but was not likely to nab the 20 necessary GOP votes in the Senate to remove Trump from office.
Sanford suggested that rather than impeachment, the president should be censured for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, a move he felt would more effectively sour Trump's image with voters in 2020. Sanford was sharply rebuked by radio host and one-term congressman Joe Walsh, who proclaimed that impeachment was not a political issue but necessary based on Trump's actions.
"I don't give a damn how impeachment plays politically!" Walsh exclaimed in response to whether moving forward with impeachment was likely to end Trump's presidency. "You do what's right!"
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld agreed with Walsh that impeachment was the best move to go forward, but he was more restrained in his input. "The president is not only impeachable, but he is removable."
"Trump is a horrible human being," Walsh also said, noting that impeachment was necessary to refocus the purpose of bipartisan politics and "get back to where we're divided on the issues." Walsh also suggested that Senate and House Republicans avoided distancing themselves from the malfeasance of the president because they were "afraid of Trump's voters."
Moderated by Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, a former Republican, the candidates focused the majority of their discussion advocating against the president, but Walsh offered the harshest review of Trump's time in office. "Donald Trump is a traitor," Walsh said. He also asserted that Trump was certainly involved with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “All roads to lead to Putin, let’s be clear," Walsh said. "Putin’s got something on him.”
Later in the discussion, all three candidates agreed that the Department of Justice should explore the possibility of pursuing federal charges against Trump. "Trump is a threat to this country," Walsh said in conclusion. Several states have already rejected a 2020 GOP primary, which effectively secures Trump's nomination for reelection in those states.
Sanford made headlines when he officially launched his campaign in Philadelphia earlier this month and only one person attended. His home state of South Carolina will not hold a Republican primary election in 2020.