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Joe Walsh regrets calling Obama a Muslim, promoting birther conspiracy

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Former Illinois congressman and 2020 Republican presidential candidate Joe Walsh expressed regret over his previous public statements baselessly attacking former President Barack Obama as a Muslim.

Walsh, who served in Congress as a Tea Party Republican from 2010 to 2012 and initially supported President Donald Trump, has become of Trump’s most vocal and fervent critics on the right and is now taking on Trump in the Republican presidential primary.

On Sunday, Walsh appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to formally announce his candidacy with George Stephanopoulos.

“No surprise, we’ve got a guy in the White House who is unfit to be president. And it stuns me that nobody stepped in the Republican Party… everybody believes that he’s unfit, he lies every time he opens his mouth,” Walsh said.

Read more: Tea Party firebrand and former GOP Rep. Joe Walsh announces he’s running against Trump in the 2020 Republican primary

When Walsh announced his primary challenge, many of his old tweets resurfaced in which he accused Obama of being a Muslim and pushed the racist “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama is not a United States citizen.

Stephanopoulos asked Walsh about his history of racist and Islamophobic attacks against Obama and whether it made him the right messenger to take on Trump.

“I helped create Trump, and that’s not an easy thing to say,” Walsh acknowledged, saying of his time as a Tea Party congressman, “There were plenty of times where I went beyond the policy and the idea differences and I got personal, and I got hateful. I said some ugly things about President Obama that I regret.”

Walsh called Obama a Muslim on Twitter as recently as 2016, contending that Obama “hates Israel,” one of the US’ closest allies in the Middle East, due to his purported Muslim faith.

As Stephanopoulos pointed out, Trump too built up his political career partly by using his platform to amplify the discredited conspiracy theory that Obama was born in Kenya and not the United States, even after Obama released his long-form birth certificate in 2011.

“I think that helped create Trump, and I feel responsible for that,” Walsh said of his tweets. “I have strong policy disagreements with President Obama, and too often, I let those policy disagreements get personal,” Walsh said, emphasizing he does not currently believe that Obama is a Muslim.

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