Walker insists on abortion claim denial, blames Dems

WADLEY, Georgia (AP) — Georgian Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker remained defiant on Thursday after successive reports alleging he encouraged and paid for a woman’s abortion in 2009 and later fathered a child with her.

Walker, a football icon turned celebrity politician and avid abortion foe, addressed his denials of reporting by The Daily Beast, blaming the Democrats’ stories and their “despair” — a defensive tactic that Walker’s friend and ally, former President Donald Trump , used to get through countless controversies en route to the White House.

“I know why you’re here. I do,” he told reporters after his first public campaign speech since The Daily Beast’s first report Monday. “You’re here because the Democrats are desperate to hold this seat here, and they’re desperate to make this race over my family.”

He repeated: “This abortion thing is not true. It is a lie.”

Walker promised in the hours after the initial report to sue the news outlet, but has failed to act on an announcement that he has done so.

The allegations, along with statements by Walker’s adult son branding his father a liar, have rocked one of the most important Senate contests in the country. Walker is engaged in an exciting race against Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, with the outcome potentially determining which party controls the Senate for the final two years of President Joe Biden’s term.

Walker’s stop on Thursday, his first public appearance of the week after a series of conservative media interviews and private events, marked his latest attempt to navigate his rocky past and reconcile the accusations with his support for an outright national ban on abortions. He has previously been confronted with stories where he revealed additional children he had not publicly acknowledged and where he exposed his exaggerations of business achievements.

None of that has shaken public support for Walker among Republicans in Washington, but the abortion allegations have shocked some party supporters in Georgia.

“I’d be lying if I said I’m not getting calls from Republicans who are very concerned and struggling with what they’re going to do in the voting booth,” Martha Zoller, a popular North Georgia radio host and one-time congressional candidate, said. in an interview.

The Daily Beast, which first reported on the abortion on Monday, said it had agreed not to reveal details about the woman’s identity in order to protect her privacy.

The outlet’s initial report contained paper evidence the woman had provided. That records included a $575 receipt for an abortion procedure, a get well card signed by Walker, and a bank deposit with a $700 personal check from Walker dated five days after the abortion receipt.

In that story, The Daily Beast only described the woman as being in a relationship with Walker in 2009, at the time of the abortion. Walker responded with flat denials, including interviews in which he claimed to have no idea who might be making the accusation. In the Wednesday story, The Daily Beast revealed that the woman – who remains unnamed – was so well known to Walker that she said they fathered another child years after the abortion. She decided to proceed with the later pregnancy, although she noted that, as with the earlier pregnancy, Walker indicated it was not a suitable time for him, the outlet reported.

Prior to his Senate bid, Walker had only publicly acknowledged his son, Christian Walker, whose mother was Walker’s first wife. Earlier this year, following another story from The Daily Beast, Walker acknowledged the existence of three additional children he hadn’t spoken about publicly before.

Christian Walker, a high-profile social media commentator, has released several comments and video statements since the first report, accusing his father of lying about his past and being an absent father. Asked about the son on Thursday, he simply said, “I love my son so much. He’s a great little man. I love him to death. I will always love him no matter what.”

The Daily Beast said the Walker campaign declined to comment on Wednesday’s story, and he had little to say about details on Thursday during his five-minute exchange with reporters in South Georgia.

During the Republican Senate primary, Walker openly supported a national ban on abortion, without exception for cases where rape, incest, or a woman’s health was at risk—particularly noteworthy at a time when the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court precedent set 1973 had been quashed and Democrats in Congress had been discussing the codification of abortion rights into federal law.

“I’m for life,” Walker has said repeatedly during his campaigns. When asked if he would allow exceptions, he said there are “no excuses” for the procedure.

As a Republican nominee, Walker has sometimes sidestepped questions about his previous support for an outright ban, a tacit nod to the fact that most voters, including many Republicans, want at least some legal access to abortion.

Warnock was in his hometown of Savannah on Thursday for a ceremony to name a street after him, and attended the event with his two young children. The senator declined to comment directly on the allegations against Walker.

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Associated Press reporter Russ Bynum contributed from Savannah, Georgia.

Bill Barrow and Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press




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