Campaign

Campaign Report — GOP closes ranks around Herschel Walker

Associated Press/Bill Barrow
Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker campaigns Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2021, in Emerson, Georgia, north of Atlanta. Walker told supporters they must “take back” the seat now held by Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat. Walker and Warnock are locked in a tight race, and the two campaigns are jousting publicly over when the two men might debate. (AP Photos/Bill Barrow)

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, tracking all things related to the 2022 midterm elections. Starting this week, you can expect this newsletter in your inbox every TuesdayWednesday and Thursday leading up to November’s election.  

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Republicans hit back after Walker allegations

The GOP apparatus in Washington is responding to allegations that Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker paid for a past partner to have an abortion by hitting the news media’s coverage.

The Hill’s Al Weaver reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the Senate Leadership Fund, the two top GOP groups involved in Senate races, are arguing the latest revelation is nothing more than a distraction and laying blame at the feet of the media.

“Democrats are losing in Georgia and are on the verge of losing the majority, so they and their media allies are doing what they always do — attack Republicans with innuendo and lies,” Chris Hartline, an NRSC spokesman, told The Hill in a statement.

“Democrats and the media have tried to stir up nonsense about what has or hasn’t happened in Herschel Walker’s past because they want to distract from what’s happening in the present,” he continued. “Right now, Senator Warnock votes with Joe Biden 96 percent of the time, causing skyrocketing inflation, a raging border crisis, and crime in Georgia communities. Georgians can see through the nonsense from the Democrats and the media and will vote accordingly.”

Steven Law, the head of the Senate Leadership Fund, which is supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in another statement Tuesday the group is “full speed ahead in Georgia.”

“This election is about the future of the country — Herschel Walker will make things better, Raphael Warnock is making it worse. Anything else is a distraction,” said Steven Law, who heads the group.

Former President Trump also released a statement coming to Walker’s defense, saying that the Senate candidate is being “slandered and maligned by the fake news media.”

The Georgia contest is considered one of the most consequential Senate races in the country and Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) are neck-and-neck.

The Daily Beast reported on Monday that GOP nominee Herschel Walker, who staunchly opposes abortion in any circumstance, urged a woman to abort a child the two conceived in 2009, and later reimbursed her $700 for the procedure. The Hill has not verified The Daily Beast’s report.

The outlet did not identify the woman, but said it obtained a bank receipt of Walker’s check and a get-well card he sent. Additionally, The Daily Beast said the woman provided proof of her past relationship with Walker and that it independently corroborated details of the story with a close friend of the woman who claimed to take care of her in the days following the alleged abortion on Sept. 12, 2009.

Walker is vehemently denying the allegation.

“It is a flat-out lie, and now you know how important this seat is,” Walker told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night. “This seat is very important, they’ll do anything to win the seat, lie, because they want to make it about everything else except for the true problems that we have in this country is, there’s inflation, the border wide open, crime, they don’t want to talk about that.”

Walker on Monday night said he plans to sue The Daily Beast for defamation.

The drama continued after the report surfaced on Monday evening when Walker’s adult son took to Twitter to criticize his father amid the allegations.

“You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence,” Christian Walker tweeted.

The elder Walker said in a separate tweet minutes later that he loves his son “no matter what.”

Pennsylvania Senate race poised for nailbiter

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, the Senate race is getting tighter and tighter.

On Tuesday, the Cook Political Report announced it was moving the race from its “lean Democratic” category to “toss up” — less than two months after moving it from “toss up” to “lean Democratic.”

“In conversations with several GOP strategists and lawmakers — who a month and a half ago had begun to put the Keystone State in the loss column — this has emerged as a margin-of-error race that they once again see winnable,” writes Cook’s Jessica Taylor.  “Republicans and Democrats alike admit the race has tightened and that Pennsylvania could be the tipping point state for the Senate majority.”

An Emerson College Polling-The Hill survey released last week showed Fetterman’s lead over Oz shrinking from 4 points in August to 2 points in September. However, a USA Today-Suffolk University poll released on Tuesday showed Fetterman leading Oz by 6 percentage points, at 46 percent to 40 percent. The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Fetterman leading by 4.3 points.

While Cook notes that the ratings change does not mean Republicans are projected to win the race, the change is likely welcomed by the Oz campaign. And on top of that, the Republican’s campaign says it had a successful third quarter fundraising haul. On Tuesday, the campaign announced it brought in $17.2 million during the reporting period, including a personal loan of $7 million. The latest fundraising numbers mark a major improvement for Oz, who reported raising $3.8 million in the second quarter.

However, it’s not all positive headlines for the Republican Senate candidate. On Monday, The Washington Post reported on the criticism Oz has faced for promoting controversial and questionable products and views on his medical talk show.

The Oz campaign responded to the Post in a statement, saying Oz did not agree with everything that was talked about on his former show.

“On his show, Dr. Oz welcomed open, honest conversations and opinions from all kinds of folks,” said Oz campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick. “It’s idiotic and preposterous to imply that he shared the same beliefs and opinions as every guest on his show, or that having someone on his show constitutes a blanket endorsement of their beliefs.”

POLL WATCH

new Detroit News and WDIV-TV survey shows Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) leading her Republican challenger Tudor Dixon by a whopping 17 points. A previous Detroit News poll initiated in August had Whitmer ahead by 13 points, and a Detroit Free Press poll last month put the governor ahead by 16 points.

In North Carolina, a new SurveyUSA-WRAL poll found GOP Senate nominee Rep. Ted Budd leading his Democratic opponent Cheri Beasley by just one percentage point, 43 percent to 42 percent.

AD WATCH

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) rolled out a new ad in Illinois’ 17th congressional district, hitting GOP nominee Esther Joy King.

In Florida’s governors race, Democratic nominee Charlie Crist released an ad criticizing incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis over his stances on abortion, taxes, and home insurance rates.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Campaign page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow. 

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