Walker will soon have more to say. The former football star will try to steady his campaign against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock on Thursday with a stop at a lumber yard in the east Georgia town of Wadley, not far from his birthplace of Wrightsville.
Anxious Republican strategists say they want to hear a forceful response from Walker that directly confronts the allegations and focuses on his struggles with mental health. Voters got a taste of his strategy earlier Wednesday with a digital ad that featured Walker saying that Warnock “doesn’t believe in redemption.” It ends with Walker saying he’s “saved by grace.”
Republicans aren’t quite in panic mode, mindful that many conservatives either aren’t paying attention to the back-and-forth or are voting for party over candidate. Some call it the Dana Loesch strategy, after the GOP strategist’s controversial take earlier this week: “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate.”
Even as national Republicans double-down on his candidacy, key Georgia figures are responding in a different way. The reactions of Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr are telling: Neither defended Walker, and Kemp said he’s focusing on his own campaign.
“Even the most staunch Republicans are rattled,” Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said on CNN. “Every Republican knew that there was baggage out there, but the weight of that baggage is starting to feel a little closer to unbearable at this point.”
Earlier Wednesday, Walker tried to downplay the report he paid for an abortion, which would undercut his staunch opposition to the procedure. He has long said he backs a “total ban” on abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. Asked on Fox News whether he knew the woman, Walker said “not at all.”
“It’s sort of like everyone is anonymous, everyone is leaking. They want you to confess to something you have no clue about,” Walker said of Democrats and the media. “But it just shows how desperate they are right now.”
A pair of new polls conducted before the Daily Beast report offer conflicting snapshots of the state of race. A WXIA/SurveyUSA poll showed Warnock with a 50-38 lead over the Republican, while a Fox 5/InsiderAdvantage poll had Warnock at 47 and Walker at 44 – within the margin of error.
Meanwhile, Walker’s son Christian, whose criticism of his father earlier this week drew international news coverage, responded to the latest report with a four-word rebuke: “Wear a condom, damn.”