At Friday’s crucial race debate in the Georgia Senate, all eyes were on how anti-abortion hardliner Herschel Walker would defend himself against Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock after an explosive report from The Daily Beast this month revealed Walker had paid an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion. in 2009.
The last second bombshell dropped in a tight race that could ultimately decide which party controls the Senate – the latest in a long line of scandals to rock the former footballer’s campaign. Walker and his campaign have consistently denied the abortion payment allegations.
But on Friday, Walker got a pass from his opponent Raphael Warnock, who never pressed the Republican on the charge.
Instead, another claim by Walker caught the attention of viewers across the country: the moment he broke the rules of the debate by holding up an alleged police sign in response to a zinger from Warnock.
“One thing I haven’t done – I’ve never posed as a police officer. And I’ve never threatened a shootout with the police,” Warnock fired at Walker in one of the more tense moments of the debate.
In response, the Republican whipped a large black badge with a gold star out of his breast pocket for a brief moment.
“I work (sic) with a lot of police officers,” he exclaimed.
It was the latest of many insinuations by Walker that he was working as a law enforcement agent, despite no real evidence that this was ever the case, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution
At the debate, the moderator quickly pounced on the candidate for breaking the rules of the exchange by producing a prop.
“It’s not a prop,” Walker doubled down. “It is true.”
The moment naturally led from disbelief to complete internet trolling of the viral moment.
“In fairness to Herschel Walker, I sometimes pull out my Star Fleet badge to get past security at Star Trek conventions,” wrote George Takei, an actor in Star Trekon Twitter.
Many also compared the moment to childish performance.
“Like Herschel Walker, I’ve gone around flashing a toy tag and pretending to be a sheriff. Then I turned 5,” read a tweet from the Palmer Report.
“Herschel Walker whipping out a fake badge and calling himself a cop fiver is like my kid calling himself a ‘pilot’ because the actual pilots handed him a wing stick and showed him the cockpit.” wrote Elie Mystal, correspondent for The Nation.
A meme-maker also leaned into film and television, overlaying Walker in classics like The X-Files and Tombstone.
Walker has claimed to work in both local and federal law enforcement several times over the years, including claims to work as a police officer and to have trained with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
There is some evidence that he may have at least planned to attend a training course at Quantico, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but he would require a college degree if he were an FBI agent, which he doesn’t have.
The Walker campaign provided Associated Press stories from 1989 in which Walker himself referred to doing an obstacle course with other FBI recruits to Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A request from The Daily Beast for further confirmation of his participation in the FBI course was not immediately responded to by the Walker campaign.
In a post-debate interview with News Nation, Walker again produced the badge — which Leland Vittert read as being from Johnson County. And Walker repeated an earlier defense, which was that he was “joking” about being an FBI agent and that he “never said I went out to do anything” but has “worked with” many county law enforcement agencies.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s attempts to confirm the validity of the badge.
Earlier, Walker’s campaign told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was an honorary deputy in Cobb County, Georgia, as well as three other unnamed counties, but neither the Cobb County police nor sheriff’s departments were able to support the claim.
A badge of honor “gives you absolutely no law enforcement authority,” former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan told Atlanta Constitution-Journal.
“It’s like a junior ranger badge.”
Walker’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.