Herschel Walker's Senate campaign rocked by report he paid for an abortion
As reported by the Associated Press, U.S. Senate nominee Herschel Walker's campaign has been jolted by yet another controversy, this time involving alleged threats to kill his family and a report that the Republican paid an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion despite his current hardline opposition to abortion for any reason.
The Monday night developments saw the Trump-endorsed candidate appear on Fox News to deny the allegations, threaten to sue a media outlet over its reporting of the abortion story, and tweet his love for his son "no matter what" after Christian Walker posted that his family urged Herschel not to run and said Herschel threatened to kill them.
In a major Senate race that could decide control of the upper chamber and that some polls have as a neck-and-neck race within the margin of error and a potential December runoff, the allegations and fallout could have serious repercussions for a campaign that has faced controversy from its inception.
Filed late Monday, The Daily Beast story alleged that Walker wrote a check for $700, enclosed in a "get well card" to a then-girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009 because he said it was "not the right time" for a child. (Editor's note: NPR has not independently verified this report.)
The article says that the woman, who is not named for privacy reasons, provided a receipt from the abortion clinic, the card with Walker's signature and an image of the personal check, in addition to corroborating the story with a friend who was aware of the abortion at the time.
Walker has made abortion one of his signature issues in his quest to join the U.S. Senate and defeat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, taking a public stance opposing abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother, and also comparing the procedure to murder. Walker also publicly supported South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's proposed 15-week federal abortion ban.
The fallout from the article was swift and far-reaching. Walker and his campaign repeatedly denied the claims that he encouraged and funded an abortion, including a tweet attacking the reporter and threatening a defamation lawsuit (which has not yet been filed) and an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News show where he largely deflected questioning.
Around the same time, Walker's son Christian, a prominent conservative social media commentator, posted several tweets attacking his father's Senate campaign and calling him a liar.
Christian Walker's mother, Cindy Grossman, previously accused her ex-husband Herschel of committing violence, including holding a gun to her head and choking her, some of which is featured in anti-Walker ads. Multiple police reports over the years accuse the former football standout of violent threats against women. No charges were ever filed.
Christian Walker also tweeted that Herschel's family asked him not to run for office and "he decided to give us the middle finger and air out all of his dirty laundry in public."
When Herschel tweeted "I LOVE my son no matter what," Christian responded that Herschel had four kids "that we know of and you weren't in the house raising ONE of them, you were out cheating and lying" and that "if you loved your kids you'd be raising them instead of running a senate race to boost your ego."
Another Daily Beast story in July found that Christian was not Walker's only child and that he lied to his campaign staff about how many children he had, highlighting "a campaign and a candidate in chaos."
The abortion story is just the latest in a lengthy list of campaign woes for Walker, whose 13-month campaign has been dominated by falsehoods about his personal and political persona, ranging from overstated academic and business credentials, to nonsensical statements on public policy such as claiming bad air from China floats into our "good air" and knocking climate laws because we have "enough trees."
Still, Georgia is a polarized state and it is unclear what impact the latest revelations could have on Walker's support with many Republican voters. Polling has suggested it could be a close race, with many showing Warnock leading Walker, but within the margin of error.
Early voting beings Monday, Oct. 17.