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Republicans Rally Behind Herschel Walker After Abortion Report


National Republicans quickly began to shut ranks on Tuesday behind Herschel Walker, the party’s embattled nominee for Senate in Georgia, a day after a report that Mr. Walker, an outspoken supporter of an abortion ban with no exceptions, had paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009.

Mr. Walker, a former football star, has denied the report, published in The Every day Beast on Monday, calling it “a flat-out lie.” The location didn’t discover the lady but said she had produced documentation of Mr. Walker’s role, including a 2009 receipt from the abortion clinic and a deposit receipt with a picture of a $700 check said to be from Mr. Walker, dated days later, that she said had covered the price of the procedure. It also published a “recover” card that the lady said had been signed by Mr. Walker.

The Georgia contest is a linchpin to the Republican Party’s probabilities to take control of the Senate in 2022, and national party leaders signaled Tuesday that they planned to persist with Mr. Walker. At the identical time, his son, Christian Walker, who has cultivated a big following on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, posted videos lashing his father as a liar who had committed “atrocities” against him and his mother.

“Full speed ahead in Georgia,” said Steven Law, the president of the Senate Leadership Fund, which booked greater than $34 million in television ads within the state between Labor Day and Election Day.

Privately, some Georgia Republican strategists said they feared that the abortion report, which The Recent York Times has not independently confirmed, and the fresh public attacks by Christian Walker would make it harder for Mr. Walker to win in November, with one sharing an animated GIF of the Titanic.

Mr. Walker has already been found to have embellished or misrepresented key elements of his life story, including claiming he worked in law enforcement (he didn’t). For years, his food-distribution company said it will donate a portion of its earnings to charity, but there’s little evidence that it did so.

Democrats have also been airing bruising ads that feature footage of Mr. Walker’s ex-wife and Christian Walker’s mother, Cindy Grossman, describing how he once held a gun to her head and threatened to tug the trigger. Mr. Walker has not denied that accusation and has said he once struggled with mental illness.

National Republicans have stayed focused on the Georgia race’s impact within the broader contest for control of the Senate. “This election is concerning the way forward for the country,” Mr. Law said. “Herschel Walker will make things higher, Raphael Warnock is making it worse. Anything is a distraction.”

Mr. Warnock, who won the seat in a runoff election in January 2021, is in search of a full six-year term and is seen as one of the crucial vulnerable Democrats within the nation, running in a state with a protracted Republican lineage but that Democrats carried in 2020.

Since Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, many Christian conservatives have chosen to overlook a politician’s personal failings for the sake of achieving broader policy goals.

With the primaries over, each parties are shifting their focus to the final election on Nov. 8.

Ralph Reed, the distinguished social conservative leader based within the state, dismissed the most recent report, saying that he expected “one hundred pc” that evangelical Christians would persist with Mr. Walker.

He compared the report’s timing to that of the “Access Hollywood” recording that threatened Mr. Trump’s bid in the ultimate weeks of the 2016 campaign. “We’ve seen this movie before,” Mr. Reed said. “They’re attempting to take down an excellent man.”

The statements of support from fellow Republicans got here quickly on Tuesday.

Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said on Tuesday, “Herschel has denied these allegations and the N.R.S.C. and Republicans stand with him.”

How Times reporters cover politics. We depend on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they will not be allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

Chris Hartline, the group’s communications director, accused “Democrats and the media” of trying “to fire up nonsense about what has or hasn’t happened in Herschel Walker’s past.”

In a press release, Mr. Trump defended Mr. Walker, saying he was “being slandered and maligned by the Fake News Media and clearly, the Democrats.”

“They try to destroy a person who has true greatness in his future, just as he had athletic greatness in his past,” Mr. Trump continued. “With all that Herschel has completed, whenever you come from Georgia, and also you see the name Herschel Walker when voting, it’ll be very hard to withstand. Don’t!”

Mr. Walker swiftly denied the abortion report on Monday, calling it “disgusting, gutter politics.” It followed previous reports on Mr. Walker’s tumultuous personal life that included the existence of three children whom he fathered but had not mentioned publicly or to his campaign aides.

The son who was known publicly, Christian Walker, has not endorsed his father’s campaign. He said on Twitter on Monday that “every member” of the family had urged him to not run. In a follow-up video on Tuesday, he accused his father of being a liar and said that conservatives who continued to back his campaign were hypocrites.

“Family values, people?” Christian Walker said. “He has 4 kids, 4 different women, wasn’t in the home raising one in all them. He was out having sex with other women. Do you care about family values? I used to be silent, lie after lie after lie.”

He added: “We were told in the beginning of this, he was going to get ahead of his past, hold himself accountable, all these various things, and that may have been superb — go ahead. He didn’t do any of that.”

The older Mr. Walker wrote on Twitter late Monday, “I LOVE my son irrespective of what.”

Mr. Walker appeared at an event hosted by First Baptist Church of Atlanta on Tuesday morning, billed as a “worship and luncheon” for the candidate. Journalists weren’t allowed access to the luncheon and were asked to go away the car parking zone outside it as scores of supporters trickled in.

Mr. Walker, who has spoken extensively about his religious faith, is counting on the support of evangelical Christians in Georgia. Mr. Reed argued that the most recent report could lift turnout amongst social conservatives, saying voters would rally to defend Mr. Walker.

On Tuesday, the super PAC aligned with the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which said it had visited greater than 310,000 Georgia homes this campaign season, also said it was standing behind Mr. Walker. “Herschel Walker has denied these allegations within the strongest possible terms, and we stand firmly alongside him,” said Mallory Carroll, a spokeswoman for the group, which is known as the Women Speak Out PAC. “And we are going to proceed through Election Day.”

Abortion has emerged as a touchstone issue in races across America within the months for the reason that Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and opened the door to state-level abortion bans.

Mr. Walker appeared on Fox News on Monday hours after the allegations broke, denying the Every day Beast report and explaining away the $700 payment by saying, “I send money to a number of people.”

“I never asked anyone to get an abortion, I never paid for an abortion,” Mr. Walker said. “At once, they’ve energized me much more.”

The report was published Monday evening as Mr. Warnock was addressing a Jewish women’s group in Dunwoody, a northern Atlanta suburb, in a speech by which he drew the loudest applause when he emphasized his support for abortion rights.

Speaking with reporters briefly after the event, Mr. Warnock acknowledged the allegations but quickly pivoted to contrasting his abortion stance with Mr. Walker’s.

“I’ll let the pundits resolve how they think it’ll impact the race,” Mr. Warnock said. “But I even have been consistent for my part that a patient’s room is just too narrow an area for a patient, her doctor and the federal government.”

He added: “I support reproductive health care as an element of health care. My opponent, then again, is talking a few nationwide ban, with no exceptions — that may include rape, incest, the lifetime of the mother.”

Jim Tankersley contributed reporting from Dunwoody, Ga.

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