MARIETTA, Ga. — Like lots of their elected leaders, Republican voters in Georgia are willing to stomach reports that “pro-life” GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker once paid for his girlfriend to get an abortion if it means winning back the U.S. Senate next 12 months.
“We’re all sinners,” Wanda Bettis, a part-time cook, told HuffPost on Wednesday as she strolled right into a Walmart within the suburbs north of Atlanta, a critical battleground within the state.
“We’ve all done some things we’re not happy with. I’m sure he’s done some things he’s not happy with. You possibly can’t blame him all the time for things he’s done prior to now,” she added.
Walker, a former NFL star running to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), reportedly urged an ex-girlfriend to get an abortion after which reimbursed her, in line with an explosive story from The Day by day Beast. The anonymous woman provided documents as proof, including a picture of a private check she said he sent to repay her for the abortion, in addition to a signed “recover” card.
The outlet dropped one more hammer Wednesday night by revealing that the girl is definitely the mother of one in every of Walker’s children. The follow-up story was published after Walker denied the unique report.
Although top GOP officials and anti-abortion groups have publicly rallied behind Walker, fears are growing amid Republicans that the controversy may cost the party its biggest pickup opportunity this 12 months — and potentially even control of the Senate next 12 months.
“Even essentially the most staunch Republicans are rattled,” Georgia GOP Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said during an interview Wednesday on CNN. “Every Republican knew that there was baggage on the market, but the burden of that baggage is beginning to feel a bit of closer to unbearable at this point.”
Rick Maki, a Donald Trump supporter from Alpharetta, also said he’s “frightened” about what else may surface in regard to Walker’s past.
“I just don’t think he has enough experience. I feel that could be an element,” Maki, who’s retired, confided to HuffPost on Wednesday. But he plans to vote for Walker in November anyway out of opposition to Democratic policies — and since Trump has said to.
One other Republican voter who identified himself only as Jimmy said he’s sticking by Walker although he considers him a “dishonest” person.
“I’m not crazy about him but he’s higher than the choice,” said Jimmy, who’s a retired caregiver from Cumming. “Is Walker my favorite candidate? You bought two decisions, you choose the very best of what you bought.”
Georgia GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker, a robust opponent of abortion, is on the defensive after reports that he paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion.
Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images
The bombshell story about Walker smacks of hypocrisy given his firm stance against abortion and exceptions to the procedure, in addition to his presentation on the campaign trail as a devout Christian family man.
It got even worse for Walker after his son Christian, a 23-year-old conservative influencer, lashed out at his father publicly in a series of posts online, appearing to verify his mother’s allegations of domestic abuse. Walker, his son wrote, was a “liar” who left him and his mother “to bang a bunch of ladies, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running out of your violence.”
Republican officials have conveniently ignored Christian Walker’s posts in their very own responses to the controversy, accusing Democrats of orchestrating your complete thing with unidentified “smears.” But some on the correct have attacked the younger Walker directly.
Cynthia Berglund, a dental hygienist from Milton, said she had a “hard time believing anyone that kept receipts from that way back,” referring to the previous girlfriend. She also wasn’t convinced by the indignant tweets and videos posted by Walker’s son, suggesting Walker’s ex-wife could also be chargeable for turning her son against his father.
“Divorces are shitty,” Berglund, a registered Republican, told HuffPost at a Walmart on the outskirts of Atlanta. “Quite a lot of times the youngsters take sides depending on how the parents behave. I’ve seen a variety of mothers just poison their kids against their father. And fathers poison kids against mothers. That I take with a grain of salt.”
HuffPost conducted over a dozen interviews in swing counties circling the Atlanta metro area on Wednesday. This fast-growing area will help determine whether Warnock can defy history for a second time and win a full six-year term in what was once a reliable GOP stronghold. A pastor and the primary Black senator from Georgia, Warnock won the special election runoff in 2021 to serve the remaining two years of the six-year term of former Sen. Johnny Isakson (R).
Warnock managed to win in 2021 by running up the margins in swing counties near Atlanta and outperforming in rural Republican strongholds. The incumbent senator will need to copy that form of performance to win in November. But this time he faces the challenge of a difficult political environment for Democrats amid high inflation and an incumbent president whose approval rating has been stuck around 40%.
The excellent news for Warnock is that he has led in several recent polls of the race even before Walker’s abortion mess. He also holds a giant fundraising advantage: His campaign reported raising over $26 million within the third quarter of the 12 months.
Walker is now playing defense in response to the newest revelations. On Wednesday, he released a TV ad addressing his past issues with mental health.
“As everyone knows, I had an actual battle with mental health, even wrote a book about it. And by the grace of God, I’ve overcome it,” Walker says within the 30-second video.
That form of pitch resonated with some Georgia Republicans.
Walter Pijanowski, a retired engineer from Marietta, told HuffPost he wasn’t “crazy” about Walker but felt he was a better option than voting for a Democrat.
“I knew he had a troubled past and at a certain point perhaps he saw the sunshine,” Pijanowski said. “I do know what the opposite guy has done and I’m not crazy about him either.”
Not everyone was as forgiving.
Greg Bishop, an independent from Marietta, expressed his distaste for each candidates. He said he and his wife plan to vote for the libertarian candidate within the Senate race but to follow incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. If more voters make the identical form of decision, Walker could face a difficult time in November.
“Walker’s an idiot. Just take heed to him talk,” Bishop said Wednesday. “It’s form of embarrassing.”