Former President Donald Trump and top GOP political leaders jumped to the defense of Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker on Tuesday after a bombshell report accused the anti-abortion Republican of allegedly paying for a woman’s abortion years earlier.
“Herschel has rightly denied the allegations against him and I have no doubt that he is right,” Trump said in a statement on his Twitter-like platform Truth Social.
The post by Trump, who has endorsed Walker and campaigned with him in Georgia, matched statements of support from the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a PAC closely tied to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Several anti-abortion groups also defended Walker on Tuesday.
Walker called the report “a flat-out lie” and vowed to file a defamation suit against the news outlet Tuesday morning. Spokesmen for Walker’s campaign have not responded to repeated questions about whether the suit has been filed.
Scott Paradise, a spokesman for Walker’s campaign, tweeted that the candidate had a big fundraising boost in the wake of the publication of the Daily Beast story. Paradise did not share any specific fundraising data in those tweets.
The Daily Beast’s article Monday night marked the latest, and possibly biggest, blow to the former NFL star’s scandal-plagued Senate bid, just weeks before the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
It comes as Walker and his Democratic rival, incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, appear neck and neck in polls in the key swing state. The Senate race in Georgia, a purple state that President Joe Biden narrowly won over Trump in 2020, is one of several key races that could determine which party controls the Senate after the election.
The Daily Beast quoted an anonymous woman who said she became pregnant when she and Walker dated in 2009, when he was not married, and that he “urged her to have an abortion.” The report said the woman supported her claims with a receipt from the abortion clinic, a “get well” card from Walker and a photo of a personal check signed by him.
The article spurred Walker’s own adult son Christian to speak out against him in a series of furious posts on social media.
“You are not a ‘family man’ when you left us to beat up a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and made us move six times in six months because of your violence,” Christian Walker wrote.
But while Christian Walker appears to have rejected his father’s bid for the Senate, Republican Party leaders and institutions are standing by his campaign.
“Herschel Walker is being maligned and maligned by the Fake News Media and of course the Democrats,” Trump said in his statement. The former president, whose 2016 campaign was also marred by personal scandals, said of Walker: “They’re trying to destroy a man who has true greatness in his future, just as he had athletic greatness in his past.”
“It is very important to our country and the great state of Georgia that Herschel Walker wins this election,” Trump wrote. “With all that Herschel has accomplished, it will be very hard to resist when you come from Georgia and you see the name Herschel Walker when you vote. Don’t!”
NRSC spokesman Chris Hartline said in a statement: “Democrats are losing in Georgia and on the verge of losing the majority, so they and their media allies are doing what they always do – attacking Republicans with innuendo and lies.”
“Democrats and the media have tried to stir up nonsense about what happened or didn’t happen in Herschel Walker’s past because they want to distract from what’s happening in the present,” Hartline said.
As a Senate candidate, Walker has called for a total ban on abortion, and he recently has said he has “always been for life.”
Late. Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the NRSC, later delivered an even more forceful message, claiming that Democrats were “turning up the smear machine” because Walker is winning.
“When the Democrats lose like they are right now, they lie and cheat and smear their opponents. That’s what’s happening right now,” Scott said, even though polls currently show Warnock beating Walker in a narrow contest.
“Herschel has denied these allegations, and the NRSC and the Republicans stand with him, and Georgians will stand with him as well,” Scott said.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-linked super PAC that has spent big on several key races, pledged to stand by Walker.
“We’re full steam ahead in Georgia,” PAC President Steven Law said in a statement. “This election is about the future of the country – Herschel Walker will make things better, Raphael Warnock will make things worse. Everything else is a distraction.”
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel accused “desperate Democrats and the liberal media” of turning to “anonymous sources and character assassination.”
“This is an attempt to distract from Warnock’s record of failure resulting in rising costs and out of control crime,” McDaniel tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “Herschel Walker will deliver a safer and more prosperous Georgia, and the RNC will continue to invest in the Senate race.”
The reporting that Walker allegedly paid for an abortion arrived in an election cycle where abortion has become a top issue for many Democratic voters. The Supreme Court ruling in late June overturning Roe v. Wade reshaped Democrats’ messaging and appears to have boosted voter registration among women and young voters.
Two major anti-abortion groups, which are seeking to end the procedure nationwide, said Tuesday they stand with Walker.
“Hershel Walker has vehemently denied these allegations, and we stand firmly by him,” Mallory Carroll, spokeswoman for a super PAC linked to SBA Pro-Life America, said in a statement.
Another group, National Right to Life, said: “The anonymous attack on Herschel Walker is just the latest in a series of attempted Democratic character assassinations dating back to the impeachment of Justice Clarence Thomas.”
“National Right to Life stands behind Herschel Walker,” it said, accusing Warnock of voting “to pay for thousands of abortions.”
“Herschel Walker wants to protect unborn children, while Raphael Warnock wants to see them die through unrestricted abortion.”
Meanwhile, an aide to incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, stopped supporting Walker.
“As he has said repeatedly throughout this campaign, the governor is laser-focused on sharing his achievements and vision for his second term with hardworking Georgians, and on raising the necessary resources to fund the advertising, gaming and turnout operation that is necessary to secure Republican victories up and down the Nov. 8 ballot,” Kemp adviser Cody Hall said, NBC News reported.
Walker’s personal life has dominated coverage of his Senate campaign. His ex-wife Cindy Grossman accused him of threatening to kill her, and Walker confirmed on the campaign trail that he has more children than previously known.