This morning, lifelong Republican Charlie Sykes reminded his readers that “The GOP’s reaction to the news that Herschel Walker paid for a girlfriend’s abortion is less a revelation than a reminder of what the party has become. It’s also a preview of what will happen in 2024. If you have any doubt how the rules of politics have changed, or that the GOP will rally around Donald Trump again— no matter what he does or says, or whether he has been indicted— watch how this is playing out… Six years into the Trump Era, you should stop being surprised. Really. Concerns about ‘character’ and ‘family values’ have been overwhelmed by a political culture of whataboutism and rationalizations about binary choices. And power… While some on the right claim to believe Walker’s implausible denials, for the most part the reaction is: We just don’t give shit, there’s a Senate seat to win here and that’s all that matters… Here’s former NRA flak Dana Loesch, brushing off Walker’s bankrolling what she calls ‘one broad’s abortion.’ Lest the reference to ‘one broad’ is not clear enough, Loesch later escalated to calling her a ‘skank.’ Because it’s all about winning…"
If there’s one thing the Republican Party appears not to fear it is hypocrisy. Anyone watching how the latest Herschel Walker scandal is unfolding would say they embrace it, even thrive on it! Reporting for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning, Patricia Murphy, Greg Bluestein and Tia Mitchell wrote how First Baptist Atlanta’s senior pastor, Anthony George, led a group of evangelical Christians in prayer for embattled GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker Tuesday— having made sure to invite the city’s entire media. George referred to the deranged, brain-damaged and perverted Walker as “Our fellow conqueror, our brother, our friend.” No doubt. He and “about 75 ‘prayer warriors for Herschel’ [including hustler and longtime GOP prince of hypocrisy Ralph Reed] circled Walker with their hands outstretched… ‘We ask you to rebuke the devil… Satan will not get the victory. We know, whatever the results of this election, Herschel wins.’… Following the event, Reed told the AJC, ‘The latest personal attack against Herschel based on an anonymous allegation that is 13 years old is unlikely to resonate with Georgia voters. Voters are far more likely to vote based on inflation, the economy, high gas prices, and the failure of Biden policies, which Rafael Warnock has supported 96% of the time.’”
Writing for the Washington Post this morning, conservative Republican Henry Olsen agreed with Reed— most Georgia voters won’t care that the professed staunchly anti-Choice Walker paid for an abortion for one of the many women he impregnated outside his marriages. Do Republicans ever care about something like that when caring could stand in tiger way of power? Olsen wrote that “No one knows how this will turn out or how the story will unfold. But one thing is clear from decades of political experience: It won’t faze Republicans. This conclusion might strike readers as incredible. How can ardent pro-lifers vote for a man who allegedly paid to kill his own unborn child? But this phrasing misstates the question they will likely ask themselves. Here’s a more accurate inquiry: Does this allegation of a long-ago abortion matter more than the fact that Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is ardently pro-abortion rights? That yields a completely different answer. Yes, many pro-lifers will be upset and conflicted if they believe the allegation over Walker’s denial… But they are not likely to abandon him.”
Elections are about choices, and those choices are often decidedly imperfect. That has always been true, but the past few years should have driven this point home. The 2016 presidential election featured the two least popular nominees in history, spawning the “Sweet Meteor of Death 2016” campaign for those despairing over the unappealing options.
…The choice between Warnock and Walker isn’t a hard one for Republicans or pro-lifers. Warnock is a solidly progressive Democrat who has largely backed his party’s agenda. That’s disqualifying for any partisan Republican. Warnock also unreservedly supports abortion rights, even reiterating his support for them in responding to Monday’s bombshell report. Walker could be a major disappointment to his voters as a senator, but he couldn’t possibly be as problematic to them as Warnock.
“Politics, it seems,” concluded Olsen, author of The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism, “is too important these days for questions of character to matter.” Last night, The Post’s Annie Linskey and Cleve Wootson noted that while national GOP leaders are rallying behind Walker, Republican leaders and activists in Georgia are "expressing unease" with Walker’s candidacy, “voicing worries that they elevated a flawed candidate who could complicate efforts to win back the Senate. The emerging dynamic five weeks before Walker faces Sen. Raphael Warnock underlines a predicament Republicans are confronting. Many see Georgia as one of the best opportunities to flip a Senate seat, and they feel compelled to continue boosting their candidate, who polls show is competitive. Yet in elevating an untested political newcomer who has faced allegations of stalking, violent threats and hypocrisy in his personal life as well as criticism over false claims, they are bracing for a potentially difficult final stretch.
Lane Flynn, a former chairman of the DeKalb County Republican Party told them that he doesn’t think “anybody got on the internet last night or got on Twitter last night and said this is going to be good for Herschel Walker. The question going forward is how transactional is the average voter going to be— not necessarily the hardcore super GOP person. But the suburban mom or … people who skipped the last election, maybe voted blue. Can they be brought back?”
Walker’s campaign raised more than $180,000 in less than 24 hours after the report about his past, a major funding boost, Walker spokesman Will Kiley said.
But elsewhere in Georgia, Republicans expressed despair about the latest round of stories— or kept their distance from Walker.
The campaign of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is up for reelection in November, treaded carefully around the developments surrounding Walker, with a representative not mentioning the Senate candidate by name.
“As he has said repeatedly throughout this campaign,” Kemp campaign spokesman Cody Hall said in a statement, “the governor is laser focused on sharing his record of results and vision for his second term with hardworking Georgians, and raising the resources necessary to fund the advertising, ground game, and voter turnout operation needed to ensure Republican victories up and down the ballot on November 8th.”
Seth Weathers, a longtime Georgia Republican strategist and state director for Trump’s campaign in 2016, lamented the situation. “We could have had Gary Black,” he said, referring to one of Walker’s opponents during the GOP primary.
“I warned everyone I knew that this was a dumb idea,” Weathers added, though he said he planned to vote for Walker in November.
A Georgia Republican official from suburban Atlanta who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be more candid said Monday’s revelations amplified concerns among her friends that Walker’s ascent to the Senate would mean a half-dozen years of drama that would reflect badly on and even embarrass the state.
“For a lot of my friends, it’s, ‘I don’t want to be embarrassed. I want good temperament. Is this someone I want to go to the game with? Someone I want to be around my child?’ ” the official said.
“I think they’re like: ‘I’m not happy with the Biden administration. I don’t like the way things are going. But you know, Warnock, he doesn’t embarrass me. He seems relatable to me.”
Some Republicans pointed to Walker’s adult son, a young conservative who has become an outspoken critic of his father amid the allegations, as a deepening problem.
…In large part, Walker and his defenders have offered his 2008 book about his struggles with dissociative identity disorder up as a counterpoint and redemption story to these claims.
Grossman’s son with Walker, Christian Walker, alleged on Twitter on Monday night that his father “threatened to kill us” and caused him and his mother to move six times in six months “running from your violence.”
On Tuesday, Christian Walker posted two short videos online: “We were told at the beginning of this he was going to get ahead of his past, hold himself accountable and all of these different things. And that would have been fine. He didn’t do any of that.”
Christian Walker also addressed his three half-siblings, who his father had not publicly discussed before the campaign. Walker’s campaign initially acknowledged that the football star had one child out of wedlock and subsequently acknowledged two others.
“He has four kids, four different women, wasn’t in the house raising any of them,” Christian Walker said in a video, accusing his father of hypocrisy for presenting himself as pro-family when he abandoned his own. Christian Walker has not responded to multiple attempts to contact him.
Asked for comment Monday on Christian Walker’s postings, the Herschel Walker campaign pointed to a tweet from the candidate. “I LOVE my son no matter what,” Herschel Walker wrote on Twitter shortly after his son’s messages posted.
Many in Georgia’s political class followed Twitter in real time Monday night, texting each other back and forth about the Daily Beast story, Christian Walker’s tweetstorm, and the implications of both on Walker’s chances of becoming senator, said one Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak more freely about the situation.
Some openly wondered whether this would be a decisive blow to the campaign, while others questioned the legal process and electoral implications of trying to replace Walker on the ballot, according to the strategist. Some worried that Monday’s report would not be the last about Walker before the election.
Other Republicans said they believe concerns about inflation and other matters will spur voters to pick GOP candidates such as Walker over Democrats, the party in power at the federal level.
No matter how they felt about him, Republicans agreed that Walker would be the GOP representative on the ballot and nothing would change that.
“We’re kind of stuck,” Flynn said.
The most recent public poll (last week, for Fox News, so before the latest scandal) shows Warnock leading Walker 46 to 41%. The FiveThirtyEight polling average shows Warnock leading by 2 points.