Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gary Black ripped into GOP frontrunner Herschel Walker during a visit to a nonprofit for victims of domestic violence Thursday, saying that a history of violent behavior toward women should disqualify the former football star from seeking higher office.
In his most cutting attack yet on his Republican rival, Black repeatedly referred to police reports accusing Walker of threatening his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend, along with passages in Walker’s memoir acknowledging suicidal tendencies and violent outbursts stemming from mental illness.
“If he were a member of the U.S. Senate and if he committed the acts that he’s admitted to, he would be removed from office,” said Black, the state’s three-term agriculture commissioner. “And yes, I do believe those activities, that behavior, is disqualifying.”
Walker’s campaign described the attack as a futile attempt by a longshot contender lagging in fundraising and the polls to gain attention.
“Desperate campaigns do desperate things. Gary Black’s campaign is struggling, so he has resorted to misleading voters with no regard for the truth,” said Mallory Blount, Walker’s spokeswoman. “This is the exact type of politics Americans hate – and it’s exactly why Herschel is running for Senate.”
Black said nominating Walker would haunt Republicans in a matchup against Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, which could determine control of the U.S. Senate. Warnock, the state’s first Black U.S. senator, has amassed record-setting fundraising hauls and has unified Democratic support behind him.
“I do not believe that this type of behavior that Herschel admitted to is going to outweigh the damage and the horror of the abuse of women,” he said, later questioning how the GOP can ask “women or anyone else” to vote for Walker.
The visit to the Marietta center was meant to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but it was also intended as a backdrop for a scathing attack on Walker’s background.
Though it had been planned for days, the event came on the heels of a string of setbacks to Black’s campaign, including U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to endorse Walker.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that an ex-girlfriend of Walker’s told police that when she tried to end what she said was a long romantic relationship with the football star in 2012, he threatened to “blow her head off” and then kill himself.
That followed reports on allegations from Walker’s ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, who obtained a protective order in 2005 after outlining to a judge his alleged threats to shoot her in the head.
While Walker has been candid about his struggles with violent impulses in the past, he has denied threatening both the women.
With support from Donald Trump and high name recognition, Walker is avoiding taking positions on some base-pleasing issues to attempt to win more moderate voters with broader platitudes about bipartisanship. Black said that strategy would damage the Republican brand in the long term.
“He needs to talk into a microphone like this and he needs to answer reporters directly. He’s accountable to the people in the state of Georgia for that,” said Black.
“There is so much riding on this race. The future of this Republic hinges on this race, and we can’t have an abuser of women held in this calculation of who wants to serve as a U.S. senator.”
Black, who has nabbed endorsements from key Georgia Republican leaders, dismissed the decision by McConnell and a half-dozen other Republican U.S. senators who endorsed Walker as a “tremendous miscalculation” by Washington establishment figures.
“I can’t recommend that anyone vote for him with a record like this,” Black said. “Herschel Walker needs to explain himself. Georgians will not tolerate an abuser of women. How can we have this as an example to our next generation, to our young people?”
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