Could the former footballer give a speech? Build a team? Debate on stage? How bad could it be?
At least one of those answers came Monday evening, when the Daily Beast posted a story alleging that Walker had fathered a child in 2009, but paid for the woman to have an abortion. For a candidate who is so staunchly anti-abortion that he says he opposes the procedure even in cases of rape and incest, the potential hypocrisy was obvious.
But was it true?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has not verified the story. It came from the same reporter who accurately revealed months ago that Walker had not one child, but four, a detail Walker hadn’t shared with his own campaign staff before getting into the race.
The Daily Beast story Monday also included a photo of a “Get Well” card from Walker to the unnamed woman, along with details of a $700 canceled check he’d written to her. Asked by Sean Hannity Monday night whether he’d written the check, Walker said, “I send money to a lot of people, and that’s what’s so funny…I give money to people all the time because I’m always helping people.”
He called the abortion accusation “an outright lie,” concocted by Democrats to keep the Senate seat now occupied by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.
And he told Fox viewers they could support him by going to HerschelWalker.com, where a donation page greets all visitors.
“Whoever has been out there want to lie on Herschel Walker, you’re lying on the wrong one,” he said.
As Walker spoke to Hannity, the tweets from his son Christian began.
“You’ve lived a life of DESTROYING other peoples lives. How dare you.”
Without named sources or an admission from Walker, the Daily Beast story can be dismissed easily enough by voters who want to support him anyway.
But there’s no way around the pain that Christian Walker’s messages reveal about himself as a boy and the anger he still feels today.
One of the biggest applause lines in any Herschel Walker stump speech this election cycle has been his declaration that the room full of people in front of him, almost all strangers, are really his family.
“All of you here are my family and my father told me you take care of your family,” he says, as potential supporters stand smiling, many wearing his famous “34″ jersey. “You are my family and I’m going to take care of you guys.”
What we know about how Walker treats some members of his own family, in their own words, is that he held a gun to his then-wife’s temple and a razor to her throat. He strangled her on several occasions, and, as his son said Monday night, he threatened to kill them both.
We also know that his three other children were quietly living private lives until Walker ran for Senate. He had to know their relationships to each other could come to light.
Walker has been able to mostly shield himself from the repercussions of his past by saying he was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the abuse, and that it’s been treated and cured, “like a broken arm you put a cast on.”
But his decision to run exposed all of his children to the white-hot spotlight of the modern political system, and to secrets even they may not have understood.
He has also endangered an otherwise winnable U.S. Senate seat for Republicans in a wildly favorable year for the party, with control of the U.S. Senate on the line.
I spoke with multiple Republicans Tuesday who were frustrated and angry that it’s gotten to this. GOP voters had three other worthy candidates to pick from in the primary, but they chose Walker instead. Some believe accountability and transparency from Walker over the next week could salvage the operation for November. Others think it’s probably too late.
If Georgia voters still want to choose Walker as their next senator, chaotic backstory and all — because they think Joe Biden is a bad president or inflation is making them nervous or they’re just Republicans picking their party’s nominee — that’s their decision.
But at least they’re finally getting some version of the truth. And hopefully, if Walker were to somehow pull out a win after all of this, he would treat them even better than family.