The Jolt: Herschel Walker hits ‘weak’ U.S. leadership in Russia crisis

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
09/25/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Former professional football player Herschel Walker reacts to President Donald Trump as he speaks during a Blacks for Trump campaign rally at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Friday, September 25, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

09/25/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Former professional football player Herschel Walker reacts to President Donald Trump as he speaks during a Blacks for Trump campaign rally at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Friday, September 25, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer /

Herschel Walker attracted hundreds of cheering supporters to a basketball gym Monday night in Dahlonega, where he spoke to the Lumpkin County GOP.

The frontrunner in the GOP Senate primary covered a range of topics in his nearly hour-long speech, including the Russian incursion into Ukraine.

Walker blamed President Joe Biden and his allies for what he described as enabling dictator Vladimir Putin’s belligerence.

“Why do you think Russia is doing what it’s doing now? Because we have weak leaders,” Walker said.

And he described his general foreign policy approach this way: “Clean your own house up first before you start talking about cleaning someone else’s house.”

He also criticized Biden for delivering a speech in Atlanta last month that equated opponents of a federal voting rights measure to notorious segregationists like Bull Connor or George Wallace.

“If you don’t like what somebody is saying to you, you want to call them a racist. Even our president is calling you a racist. Think about this: Atlanta just won the World Series. How are you calling them a racist? Did you see the MVPs of the game? The two guys they interviewed spoke a different language than the interviewers from America.”

(The MVPs of the NLCS and World Series were Eddie Rosario of Puerto Rico and Jorge Soler of Cuba.)

And a few weeks after he told an interviewer it was “totally unfair” to ask how he would have voted on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, Walker outlined his opposition to the measure.

“Yes, we need bridges and roads done. But a lot of that money went to climate change and trees. What do trees have to do with infrastructure?” (The bill included funding for wildfire recovery for the National Forest Service.)

That brought a rejoinder from Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Walker’s top GOP rival, who responded: “We need a senator who puts a team together - not a staff who puts a senator together.”

Before he closed, Walker indicated he was ready to step up his attacks on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“I can promise you Herschel Walker is going to be in this race. And it’s time that my opponents know that. I didn’t get in this race to play games. I got into this race to let him know he’s in for a fight.”

The speech ended with no questions from the audience but a long photo line.

Before Walker headed to North Georgia, GOP candidate Latham Saddler picked up a win in the Republican Jewish Coalition’s straw poll. Kelvin King came in second and Walker finished third.


UNDER THE GOLD DOME, Tuesday, Feb. 22:

  • 8:00 a.m.: Committee meetings begin;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The House gavels in;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The Senate convenes.


We’re keeping an eye on:

  • Ongoing committee consideration of the 2023 state budget;
  • A 1:30 subcommittee meeting to consider a ban on local regulation of gas-powered leaf blowers;
  • The fast-approaching qualifying date for state House and Senate races. GOP State Rep. Ed Setzler announced he’ll run for state Sen. Lindsey Tippins’ Cobb-based district now that Tippins is retiring.


As backers of Buckhead City look for proof of life in the movement’s future, GOP state Rep. Dave Belton is looking for one final “dunk” on the effort, in the words of a fellow lawmaker.

Belton represents the long-ago incorporated Buckhead, Ga. and was an early opponent of a new “Buckhead City.”

He’s now filed a bill to prevent new cities from incorporating with a name similar to that of an existing city. If passed, that means any “Buckhead City” effort in the future would have to pick a new name.

We’ll take your suggestions for new possible names below, but as for another “Buckhead”? State Rep. Josh McLaurin says, “My man ain’t having it.”


Republican Mike Collins is showing signs of consolidating GOP support after former Democrat Vernon Jones entered the race for the 10th Congressional District.

Demolition man Matt Richards, one of a dozen or so Republicans in the race, dropped out of the contest Monday and endorsed Collins as a “fighter who has lived, worked, raised a family and started a business in this district.”

That was a not-so-subtle shot at Jones, a former DeKalb County chief executive who quit the governor’s race earlier this month to run for Congress.

There are still plenty of GOP candidates remaining. One of them, Marc McMain, released his first TV ad on Monday. In it, he rails against vaccine mandates and says he is “ready to go to war with Joe Biden and throw Fauci in jail.”


Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer and former party secretary Shawn Still both received subpoenas last month from the U.S. House Jan. 6 Committee to appear before the committee on Monday ready to testify about their role in creating a fake slate of electors for former president Donald Trump.

But since Monday was a federal holiday, the committee did not meet.

Reached by phone, Shafer said he stayed in Georgia because of the holiday, but declined to say whether he’s cooperating with the committee. He did not confirm whether he produced the documents investigators asked to be delivered two weeks ago -- and referred other questions to his attorney, Robert Driscoll.

We’ll keep you posted on further developments.


POSTED: On what would have been Congressman John Lewis’ 82nd birthday, the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation announced Monday that it will host its inaugural gala in Washington in May.

Lewis conceived of the foundation — named for Lewis and his wife, who preceded him in death — shortly before he died in 2020. He envisioned it as a way to help ensure his legacy of civil rights activism and nonviolence endures.


In the governor’s race, Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest radio ad aims to hit David Perdue where it hurts, namely with Donald Trump supporters.

The ad opens with the voice of Trump – Perdue’s most important ally – bemoaning the rise of outsourcing.

“He built his career as a business executive sending jobs to China,” a narrator says.

Outsourcing American jobs overseas was common in the corporate world-- and Perdue said he was “proud” of that practice during his 2014 campaign for U.S. Senate. He took a different tack in 2020, distancing himself from his business experience in Asia.


The upcoming CPAC confab is happening in Florida this week and includes several Georgians-- either in person or making a high-profile appearance on the program itself.

Look for U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on a panel called, “They can’t shut us up!” Also on the agenda: former U.S. Sen. David Perdue on a “Power Play” panel and U.S. Rep. and Secretary of State candidate Jody Hice on a panel that really is called, “Sorry Stacey, you are not the Governor.”

And while several Trump-approved GOP governors are expected, we’re told Gov. Brian Kemp was not on the invite list.


More endorsement-related questions are popping up for Rich McCormick, the emergency room physician who is competing in the Republican primary in the 6th Congressional District.

We told you earlier this month that the Republican Main Street Partnership, a political group that works to elect centrist lawmakers in swing districts, had endorsed McCormick.

That led to criticism of McCormick by conservatives, who said the group represents “Never Trumpers.”

When we first asked McCormick’s campaign about the endorsement, he said he was standing by it and that Mainstreet backs other “true Trump defenders.”

“They believe that I’m best equipped to stop the Biden/Pelosi agenda in Washington and deliver real, conservative results for families in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District,” McCormick said in a statement.

But he also told conservative radio host John Fredericks at the time that he didn’t know how he got the endorsement and didn’t know about the it until it was announced, although he did say he’d met with Mainstreet’s representatives in Washington.

“You understand how this is problematic, right?” Fredericks told him. “There’s certain endorsements you don’t want.”

But McCormick did not disavow the endorsement, saying he didn’t want to alienate people based on narrow areas of disagreement.

Since then, something appears to have shifted. Although the organization’s social media post promoting the McCormick endorsement is still online, he is no longer included on its website on the list of endorsed candidates.

And neither McCormick’s campaign nor Mainstreet has responded to our requests for an update.

The campaign of one of McCormick’s opponents, attorney Jake Evans, weighed in by describing Mainstreet as a “Republican in name only” organization and criticizing McCormick for cultivating its support before questioning it.

“RINO Rich has shown the voters who he really is — someone who will do and say anything to get elected,” Evans’ campaign manager John Mason Long said.

This is the second endorsement-related controversy for McCormick.

Shortly after he announced last year he was switching from the 7th to the 6th District, he released a list of endorsements from 28 sitting members of Congress that turned out to be inaccurate. Many of the lawmakers said they had supported McCormick in 2020 but not for the 2022 primary.


On the 6th District trail, Dr. Rich McCormick plans to attend a school choice rally at noon today at Liberty Plaza next to the Capitol.

On Thursday, former Acting Director of Intelligence Ric Grenell will host a fundraiser for Republican Jake Evans. Tickets start at $500 a pop. Grenell served as ambassador to Germany under Donald Trump while Evans’ father, Randy Evans, was ambassador to Luxembourg.


In the pantheon of campaign ads, even we can’t recall a candidate incorporating a spoof of themselves into one of their own campaign ads.

But that all changed after our pal and comedienne extraordinaire Blaire Erskine filmed a parody of Kandiss Taylor … and Taylor then dropped it into a digital campaign ad for her GOP campaign for governor.

The move left even Erskine speechless on Twitter, but Taylor may have the last laugh. The video-inside-the-video has gotten thousands of “likes” on social media.


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