Football star Herschel Walker, who’s the Republican nominee trying to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia, has vehemently denied that he paid for the abortions of two women.
In early October, the Daily Beast reported that in 2009, Walker paid for a woman’s abortion. According to the news site’s report, Walker “urged” the woman to get an abortion because “the time wasn’t right for a baby,” and after she had the procedure, she received a $700 check from him and a “get well” card, which she saved. Walker called the claim a “flat-out lie” and threatened to sue The Daily Beast over it, but hasn’t followed through on that threat.
Walker also denied a subsequent Daily Beast report that he later fathered a child with the same woman.
CBS News has not confirmed the allegations or the reporting by The Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast also previously reported that Walker has four children, three sons and one daughter. He had not publicly disclosed three of the four before his Senate run but did so in June, after the report was published.
In late October, another woman came forward, claiming that Walker had paid for her to have an abortion in the early 1990s. Walker also denies this accusation. The woman, known as Jane Doe to conceal her identity, claims Walker drove her to an abortion clinic in the spring of 1993 after he learned she was pregnant.
“After discussing the pregnancy with Herschel several times, he encouraged me to have an abortion and gave me the money to do so,” the woman said in a press conference with attorney Gloria Allred.
This woman described a six-year relationship with Walker while he was still married and playing in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings.
She said that she tried to get an abortion herself, but couldn’t go through with it. The next day, the woman said, Walker took her to a Dallas-area clinic and waited for her while she got the procedure. Allred shared evidence from her client including a hotel receipt, handwritten cards purportedly from Walker, a photo and recording of him as proof of their relationship.
Walker told reporters, “This is all a lie, and I will not entertain any of it.”
The Senate race had already been one of the most closely watched of the 2022 cycle. The race features a Black Democratic incumbent in a state that hadn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1996 — until it elected two in 2020. And the state had never elected a Black senator before Warnock won his special election in 2020.
Here’s what you need to know about the race and the latest allegations:
What races are on the ballot?
One of Georgia’s Senate seats is on the ballot on Nov. 8, just under two years removed from the high-stakes pair of Senate runoffs in the state in Jan. 2021 that decided control of the Senate. Herschel Walker is the Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Both parties are once again expecting their respective paths to the Senate majority to go through Georgia, where over $243 million has been spent on advertisements this cycle, according to ad-tracking firm AdImpact. Also on the ballot in Georgia is the governor’s race, where incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is locked in a rematch from 2018 with Democrat Stacey Abrams.
Why is the GOP so bullish on Georgia?
It all comes down to control of the Senate. Currently, the Senate is split 50-50 but Democrats have control thanks to the Vice President providing the tie- breaking vote. But with 35 seats up for reelection in Nov., Republicans are hoping they can take control back. That’s where Georiga comes in. A win in the Peach State could be what puts the Republicans over the edge and back in the majority.
“Georgia was one they thought they could just win, even with a not particularly great candidate,” Conservative radio host Erick Erickson told CBS News. “And now that one looks to be the most in jeopardy.”
President Joe Biden won Georgia in 2020 by just 14,000 votes, or just 0.3%, the first Democrat to win a presidential election since Bill Clinton in 1992. There were two Senate races held in the state in 2020 because of Sen. Johnny Isaakson‘s resignation and Sen. David Perdue’s regularly scheduled race. In the race for Perdue’s seat, he actually led over Jon Ossoff, 49.7% to 47.9%, after Election Day, but falling by 0.3% short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. Despite a last-minute rally by Trump, Ossoff won in the runoff.
As for the other seat, incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler — who had been appointed to Isakson’s seat — was forced into a runoff after a jungle primary after Warnock captured 32.5% of the vote to 29.5% for Loeffler, although there were 21 candidates in the race. Warnock ultimately prevailed in the January runoff.
Who is Herschel Walker?
Walker is best known for his Heisman Trophy-winning performance as a running back for University of Georgia. He helped lead the team to a National Championship win in 1980 and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999. Following three years at Georgia, Walker went on to play professional football for both the now abolished USFL and the NFL. It was during his time in the USFL that Walker got to know Former President Donald Trump, a vocal supporter of Walker’s senate race.
Walker announced his run for the Georgia Senate race August 2021, saying he “can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.” This is his first candidacy and he frequently invokes his Washington outsider status on the campaign trail.
When was Walker first in the news regarding these allegations?
Walker is on the defensive following a report in early October by The Daily Beast that said the Senate candidate, who has vocally opposed abortion rights, allegedly paid for a woman he’d been seeing to have an abortion in 2009. CBS News has not independently confirmed this payment. The Daily Beast said the unidentified woman supported her claim with a $575 receipt from an abortion clinic — and a signed $700 personal check from Walker to cover expenses. She told The Daily Beast she came forward because of Walker’s stance on abortion, saying “I just cant with the hypocrisy anymore. We all deserve better.”
On Oct. 5, The Daily Beast reported that she also said she later gave birth to a child of his. He also denied that report.
The woman told The New York Times that when she became pregnant again two years later, Walker again asked her to end the pregnancy. This time, she refused, she and Walker ended their relationship, and she gave birth to a son, who is now 10 years old. She told the Times that he has paid child support after being ordered to so so by a court. “As a father, he’s done nothing. He does exactly what the courts say, and that’s it,” she said, according to the Times. “He has to be held responsible, just like the rest of us. And if you’re going to run for office, you need to own your life.”
What has been his response?
Walker has denied the accusations.
On the first, he tweeted “this is a flat-out lie,” and “this is another repugnant hatchet job from a democrat activist disguised as a reporter.” He added in the tweet that he plans to sue The Daily Beast for defamation but Walker’s lawyer, Robert Ingram, told CBS News, “We are currently considering our options but no final decision has been made on the future handling of this matter.”
Walker and Warnock debated in Savannah in mid-October, before the second allegation surfaced. But Walker was asked about the first accusation and again denied it.
After the second report that said that the woman was the mother of one of his children, he said in a statement, “As I have already said, there is no truth to this or any other Daily Beast report.”
National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Sen. Rick Scott equated Walker’s reported payment to the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his confirmation hearings. The committee added to its ad buy in Georgia Tuesday, after the allegation against Walker came out.
Who is Christian Walker?
Christian Walker is Herschel Walker’s adult son, and is a notable conservative personality on social media and YouTube. The 23-year-old has previously shown support for his father’s Senate run, tweeting in Dec. about introducing him at Mar-a-Lago and saying one year ago that “everyone’s really excited that my dad Herschel Walker is” running.
After The Daily Beast story came out, Christian Walker put out several tweets and videos calling on his father to “stop the lies” and said “every family member of Herschel Walker asked him not to run for office, because we all knew (some of) his past.” Christian Walker seemed to corroborate some of The Daily Beast’s reporting, in one video he said, “it’s literally his handwriting in the card.” After his son’s initial string of posts, Herschel Walker tweeted, “I LOVE my son no matter what.”
What about the polls before this incident?
A CBS News Battleground Tracker poll, from late September, before the allegations surfaced, showed the two candidates neck and neck, with Walker trailing incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock by just two points. This puts the race in the “toss up” category.
What are Republicans saying?
Republican politicians appear to be standing by Walker, maintaining a united front ahead of the midterms, as they try to take back control of the Senate.
Scott dismissed the story, saying Democrats “know they are on the verge of losing the Senate, and they know that Herschel Walker is winning, so they have cranked up the smear machine.”
Trump also released a statement showing support for Walker,a longtime friend. “Herschel Walker is being slandered and maligned by the Fake News Media and obviously, the Democrats,” he said, adding, “it’s very important for our Country and the Great State of Georgia that Herschel Walker wins this Election.
What is his opponent saying?
Until mid-October, Warnock refrained from saying much about the abortion allegations against Walker, and Warnock, a pastor, himself hasn’t avoided accusations during this race, with ads frequently running accusing him of domestic abuse. The allegations stem from a 2020 incident where Warnock allegedly ran over his wife’s foot with a car, and no charges were filed.
But with an extremely tight race going into the final days of the campaign, Warnock’s campaign went up with an ad attacking Walker over the first allegation. “Herschel Walker wants to ban abortion … But for himself, Herschel Walker paid for an abortion for his then-girlfriend,” the ad says. Warnock’s deputy campaign manager, Rachel Petri, commented when the ad was released, “As we’ve done throughout the campaign, we are making sure Georgians know the facts about Herschel Walker’s record.”
What are Georgia voters saying?
Many GOP Georgia voters appear to be sticking with Walker in this race. Adam Whitney told CBS News that he thinks his fellow Georgia Republicans will stick with Walker despite the latest accusations against him.
“It is very much partisanship and that people tend to side with the party sometimes over the person,” Whitney said. “In terms of the overall population, I think people do just vote straight with party.”
Voters on both sides also expressed growing frustration with the frequent accusations against both candidates- and the near constant TV ads running in the state about them.
“It’s unfortunate that we can’t talk about real issues that matter because we’re distracted by people without integrity like Herschel Walker,” Amy Bruckman, a registered Democrat, told CBS News. “I think it does the Republicans a disservice. I’d like to see greater dialogue about real issues between Democrats and Republicans.”