GOP surrogates to rally for Georgia’s Herschel Walker to show unwavering national party support



CNN

The Republican cavalry is riding into Georgia on Tuesday for Senate nominee Herschel Walker, whose campaign was rocked last week by allegations that the former football star — who supports a national abortion ban without exceptions — twice asked an ex-girlfriend to have the procedure and pay for that on the occasion she did.

Walker is joined by Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the chairman of the party’s Senate campaign arm, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton at a stop in Carrollton, about an hour west of Atlanta, on a statewide bus tour as a show of strength by national Republicans for the Trump- supported candidate in one of their main pick-up opportunities.

Their visit comes at a crucial time in a race vital to both parties’ hopes of winning a 50-50 Senate. Most polls show Walker and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who is running for a full six-year term, in a tight race less than a month before Election Day.

After the latest stories about Walker, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, led by Scott, plans to direct some of the $2.5 million in advertising spending it is pulling out of New Hampshire to Georgia, while party leaders — including former President Donald Trump and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel – closes the ranks in support of Walker.

Walker has dismissed reports from The Daily Beast and the New York Times that, together, found that the Republican reimbursed a woman with whom he was in a relationship for an abortion in 2009 and then, two years later, sought her again should have the procedure. after she became pregnant. She refused the second time and had a son, who she said is now 10 years old.

CNN has not independently confirmed the woman’s claim about the abortion or that Walker encouraged her to terminate another pregnancy. CNN has reached out to the Walker campaign for comment.

Walker denied the original Daily Beast report and has repeatedly called the woman’s allegations a “flat out lie,” using the phrase at a press conference last week and in a fundraising email on Monday in which he cast himself as the victim for a smear. campaign and compared himself to Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

“Let me be clear: I have never paid for anyone to have an abortion. That is an outright lie,” Walker wrote in the email, which accused “The Left” of fabricating the reports about him, then added: “Their Intimidation tactics didn’t work on Judges Thomas or Kavanaugh, and they’re not going to work on me.”

In comments to NBC News on Friday, Walker appeared to confirm that he knows the identity of the woman who claimed he paid for an abortion. However, he continued to deny any knowledge of the procedure.

“She’s been angry with me for years and it’s very difficult,” he told NBC, in a brief interview.

Scott and Cotton’s decision to travel to Georgia to attend the rally underscores the GOP’s belief that the charges against Walker have not irreparably damaged his chances. Their visit also reinforces the GOP strategy of trying to make Walker look like an unfairly maligned victim.

“Democrats want to destroy this country and they will try to destroy anyone who gets in their way. Today it’s Herschel Walker, but tomorrow it’s the American people,” Scott said in a statement sent to CNN on Saturday. “I am proud to stand with Herschel Walker and make sure Georgians know he will always fight to protect them from the forces trying to destroy Georgia’s values ​​and Georgia’s economy, led by Raphael Warnock.”

McDaniel, the RNC chief, reaffirmed the party establishment’s backing in a Sunday fundraising pitch to supporters. After describing the reports as “cobbled together” and “nothing short of character assassination.”

“Herschel Walker will deliver a safer and more prosperous Georgia, and the RNC stands by our support of his campaign,” McDaniel wrote.

Walker also has continued support from Trump, who accused the media of “smearing” the candidate in a social media post. A new super PAC launched by top Trump ally MAGA Inc. has also committed nearly $1 million in new spending to the Georgia race, as part of a $5 million five-state outlay in key Senate races.

Trump’s example has been central to Republicans’ response to the accusations.

Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise specifically referred to the former president while speaking to staffers last Tuesday, acknowledging that the initial Daily Beast report was a blowback, a source familiar with the remarks told CNN last week. But he also pointed to Trump’s 2016 victory — citing the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which he spoke crudely about groping women — as evidence that Walker remained a viable candidate, and also noted that the campaign had seen a surge in fundraising in the hours since Walker denied the initial allegations. (Paradise later denied referring to the “Access Hollywood” video.)

However, there has been a hint of trouble in the Walker line-up. The campaign fired its political director, Taylor Crowe, last week. Two people familiar with the matter said the dismissal came amid suspicions that Crowe was leaking information to the media. It is unclear whether other factors were at play. Crowe did not respond to requests for comment.

While Republicans are rallying around Walker and leveling unsubstantiated accusations against Democrats and Warnock, alleging they are fabricating the woman’s claims, the incumbent has remained mostly silent on the matter, refusing to directly attack or condemn his opponent.

“It’s up to the voters of Georgia. It’s not up to him, it’s not up to me,” Warnock told reporters after a Saturday rally in Columbus. “We know my opponent has a problem with the truth. And we’ll see how this all plays out, but I’m completely focused on the health care needs of my constituents, including reproductive health care.”

Pressed on whether he believed Walker’s denials, Warnock again hesitated, saying his view “is irrelevant because the people of Georgia will decide.”

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