Ginni Thomas

Leaders with Ginni Thomas: Rep. Joe Walsh

One Republican freshman from Illinois has the audacity to tell the president he lies, to tell Chris Matthews he bullies guests, and to say the Tea Party movement seems bigger than either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Some are wondering if Joe Walsh’s unconventional style and national leadership potential triggered a Chicago Sun-Times article — which the congressman calls a “hit piece” — that digs up an eight-month-old lawsuit involving his former wife, and uses allegations of missed child-support payments to diminish his credibility.

Since then, New York Times columnist James Warren has sneered at Walsh, calling his very survival in the House a “test case.” MSNBC firebrand Larry O’Donnell has pushed the envelope far enough to actually ban the congressman from his distant-second-place 8:00 p.m. program.

It’s been said that in Washington, the pioneers are the ones with all the arrows in their backs. If that’s true, Joe Walsh is in a wilderness all his own.

The only Republican to get zero help from the GOP’s national campaign apparatus, the 49-year-old Rep. Walsh surprised the establishment by defeating Democrat Melissa Bean by 291 votes in 2010. He sleeps in his office, does not accept federal-employee health or pension benefits, and has held more than 50 open town hall meetings since becoming a member of Congress.

Last week, Rep. Walsh sat down with TheDC’s Ginni Thomas to talk about the debt ceiling, the president, the Tea Party, and Chris Matthews.

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How do you see the debt-ceiling negotiation dynamics?

“I’m not worried about Aug. 2, and I’m not worried about being blamed politically for anything we might do.”

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Your predictions the next steps toward a debt-ceiling resolution?

“For us to do something about the debt ceiling, the Democrats and the president are going to have to move.”

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The mass media’s confusion about the Tea Party movement

“I believe this Tea Party movement is bigger than either party. The media doesn’t understand it. Neither party understands it.”

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On President Obama

“I think that this president got elected because of who he was. It just gets people going. Very few people voted for him because of anything he’d done. He really hadn’t done anything.”

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