Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker is set to campaign with Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton on Tuesday, the latest sign that the national GOP is focusing on Walker’s candidacy as he tries to overcome a renewed focus on his rocky past.
Scott, the chairman of Republicans’ Senate campaign arm, and Cotton, a potential presidential candidate in 2024, will hold an event with Walker in metro Atlanta as the football legend continues to deny allegations that he paid for and encouraged an abortion in 2009 for a woman with whom he later fathered a child.
Walker, who has spoken out against abortion rights in his first run for public office, is attempting to unseat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a key midterm election that will determine which party controls the United States Senate for the final two years of President Joe Biden’s term.
The campaign pivot by Washington heavyweights highlights a simple calculation for a GOP establishment that was skeptical of Walker’s candidacy before he became the nominee: It’s simply too late to abandon a competitive candidate this close to the election, especially with the Senate deadlocked in a 50-50 partisan split.
Scott has already dismissed the stories as malicious collusion between Democrats and the media, claiming a coordinated effort is underway to “destroy” Walker and the country. Walker has followed the same script.
The Daily Beast’s reporting complicates Walker’s candidacy in a number of ways. As a candidate who supported an absolute national ban on abortions, Walker faces questions from at least some skeptical religious conservatives who are weighing their preference for Republican rule against the possibility that Walker’s personal life has not matched his public persona.
However, Walker’s evolving explanations — initially claiming he had no idea who could have claimed he paid for her abortion, only for the woman to identify herself as the mother of one of Walker’s four children — have undermined his absolute denials and provided Democrats with a new opportunity to press their claims that he’s “not ready” for the Senate.
That’s an argument Warnock has made to the middle of the Georgia electorate, including Republican-leaning voters who helped Biden win Georgia by a narrow margin in November 2020 and then boosted Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff to Senate runoff victories two months later.
According to the Daily Beast, the woman provided records that included a $575 receipt for an abortion, a get-well card signed by Walker, and a bank deposit showing a $700 personal check from Walker, dated five days after the abortion receipt. The woman, who did not want to be identified, also told The Daily Beast that Walker encouraged the abortion and then encouraged a second abortion, which she refused, giving birth to a child she claims Walker has only met a few times.
Warnock, who supports abortion rights, has avoided addressing the specifics of Walker’s allegations. However, the incumbent has used the same argument about Walker’s fitness that he used during earlier disclosures of Walker’s past and when the first-time candidate flubbed some policy discussions. Previous reports detailed how Walker exaggerated his academic achievements, business success, and philanthropic activities, as well as allegations that he threatened the life of his ex-wife.
Walker, who had previously spoken publicly about his adult son Christian Walker, was forced to publicly acknowledge having three additional children — including a child of the woman who claimed he paid for her abortion — following another Daily Beast story earlier in the campaign. He had previously only spoken publicly about Christian, a son from his first marriage.
She believes that, in the end, some voters will make the same decision that Scott, Cotton, and their Washington colleagues have made.
“If they see Walker as someone who will vote against Joe Biden and rebalance power in the Senate, they will continue to vote for Herschel Walker,” she said. “If they believe he has gone too far in his personal life and they cannot support that, they will either vote against him or not vote at all.”