Former Trump Presidential Opponent Joe Walsh Backs Bernie Sanders, Tells GOP 'I'd Rather Have a Socialist Than a Con Man'

Former Republican congressman Joe Walsh, who ended his long-shot GOP presidential primary challenge earlier this month, chastised "never Trump" members of his party for balking at a potential Bernie Sanders nomination.

Walsh, who was the most outspoken Republican primary challenger to Trump's reelection campaign before dropping out February 7, penned an opinion piece in The Washington Post Tuesday telling fickle fellow "never Trump" conservatives that he will support whoever the Democrats nominate in July. The former Illinois GOP lawmaker told other Republicans taking a stand against the party's widespread backing of Trump should "prove to the world that you're a principled conservative." Walsh said that while Sanders is far from his favored Trump challenger come November, the progressive Vermont senator is still better than another four years under the current president.

To prove his "never Trump" credentials, Walsh said that if Sanders ultimately becomes the Democratic nominee, "I won't just vote for him, I'll campaign for him."

"No, never-Trump isn't an official designation. It's not (yet) a political party. It's not a club with bylaws," Walsh wrote Tuesday. "But it is an idea. It means that President Trump — his impeachable conduct, his nonstop racist jabs, his tariffs, his nepotism, his knee-jerk foreign policy and his insistence on turning the presidency into a cult of personality — is the real bridge too far, not Sen. Sanders."

Walsh particularly criticized right-wing media figure Erick Erickson and other longtime "never Trump" conservatives like Bill Kristol for claiming they'd back anyone against Trump -- anyone but Sanders, that is. On Monday, Kristol urged former President Barack Obama to campaign for his "loyal VP" Joe Biden in South Carolina in an effort to take down Sanders' front-runner candidacy.

"I hate to break it to you, but if you're really never-Trump, then you know there's no except-if-he's-a-socialist footnote. There's no but-she's-way-too-professor-ish clause. Nothing in the fine print says the only acceptable Democratic alternative is another arrogant billionaire," Walsh wrote in the Post.

His opinion essay entitled, "I'm no fan of Bernie Sanders. But #NeverTrump means never Trump," corroborates his outspoken Twitter commentary which ridicules Trump's polices as bigoted and big-spending while offering casual defenses of the Democratic candidates which he has conceded are all flawed opponents. He frequently refers to Trump as a "criminal in the White House." He also acknowledges that he "sadly" supported Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Walsh ended his primary challenge against Trump earlier this month but former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld remains poised to stay in the race at least through the March 3rd Super Tuesday contests.

"[Trump] is literally the greatest threat to this country right now. Any Democrat would be better than Trump in the White House," Walsh told CNN as he announced the end to his campaign.

Walsh continued this point in the blistering Post piece Tuesday, urging his "never Trump" compatriots to follow through on their pledges to the Constitution. "I tried to run against Trump in the GOP primary, because I believe in this country ... Because never-Trump means never. And I'd rather have a socialist in the White House than a con man."

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DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 28: Joe Walsh speaks during a debate between Republican presidential primary challengers at the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit on October 28, 2019 at Detroit Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images) TAYLOR HILL / Contributor/Getty Images