A report that Republican candidate Herschel Walker paid for his then girlfriend’s abortion in 2009 has roiled the high-profile Georgia Senate race.
A Daily Beast report Monday night saying Walker had urged his girlfriend to end her pregnancy included details about a signed check from him to cover the procedure, a receipt from the abortion clinic, a “get well” card from Walker and corroboration from friends of the woman, who remained anonymous. Walker has staked out a staunchly anti-abortion position in the campaign, saying the procedure should be banned with no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother.
Walker disputed the Daily Beast’s report in a statement, calling it a “flat-out lie” and saying, “I’m not taking this anymore. I [am] planning to sue the Daily Beast for this defamatory lie. It will be filed tomorrow morning.” Public figures’ lawsuits against media outlets have a high bar of proof in the U.S.; it’s unclear what evidence Walker may offer in court to attempt to disprove the report.
When asked about the $700 check during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s primetime Fox News show, Walker said, “I send money to a lot of people,” noting that he gives scholarships and is “always helping people.” Walker again said the report was a “flat-out lie” and said it left him “energized.”
Following an early endorsement from former President Donald Trump, the University of Georgia football legend comfortably won the Republican primary to face incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock. This victory came despite concerns about his background, which included accusations of domestic abuse and of exaggerations of both his business and academic records. Warnock has focused on Walker’s extreme anti-abortion stance, including his support of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposed federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks, which other GOP candidates have sidestepped as much as possible since it was put forward in September.
This summer, reports revealed that Walker had previously undisclosed children and that he had reportedly lied to his own campaign staff about their existence. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in June that he falsely claimed he had worked in law enforcement.
Walker's son Christian criticized his father in a series of tweets Monday night following the Daily Beast report, writing, “I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us. You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence.”
Christian Walker, a right-wing influencer who had previously supported his father’s campaign, continued, “I don’t care about someone who has a bad past and takes accountability. But how DARE YOU LIE and act as though you’re some ‘moral, Christian, upright man.’ You’ve lived a life of DESTROYING other peoples lives. How dare you. … Every family member of Herschel Walker asked him not to run for office, because we all knew (some of) his past. Every single one. He decided to give us the middle finger and air out all of his dirty laundry in public, while simultaneously lying about it. I’m done.”
Following those comments, Herschel Walker tweeted, “I LOVE my son no matter what.” Christian responded to the comment in a now-deleted post: “You have 4 kids that we know of and you weren’t in the house raising ONE of them, you were out cheating and lying. If you loved your kids you’d be raising them instead of running for a senate race to boost your ego.”
In a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday morning, Christian Walker addressed a video of him introducing his father at a campaign event last year.
“People on the right are pulling up that I did a campaign event with my dad last year," he said. "They're saying, 'Well you supported him all last year and all this year, you look suspicious.' No, no, no, you all have been calling me saying, 'Why aren't you on the campaign trail with your dad?' And I've said to you calmly, I'm not getting involved. You don't know my family life. I did one event last year when we were told he was gonna get ahead of his past and hold himself accountable. None of that happened. Everything's been a lie.”
"I stayed silent as the atrocities committed against my mom were downplayed,” he said in another Tuesday video. “We could have ended this [campaign] on day one. We haven’t. I haven’t told any stories. I’m just saying don’t lie.”
The Georgia seat was seen as a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans, with Democrats narrowly winning statewide races there in 2020 and 2021, including Warnock's victory in a special election runoff to fill out the final two years of the previous term. Warnock has been a prolific fundraiser, and recent polling has shown him with slim leads. With the Senate currently evenly split at 50-50, if Walker’s candidacy indeed fails, it could potentially imperil a Republican takeover of the chamber.
Walker set expectations low for the candidates’ only scheduled debate, saying at a press conference last month, “I’m this country boy. I’m not that smart. And he’s that preacher. He’s a smart man, wears these nice suits. So he’s going to show up and embarrass me at the debate October the 14th, and I’m just waiting. I’ll show up, and I’m going to do my best.”