Senate Minority Whip John Thune is the latest Republican to back the ex-NFL player endorsed by Donald Trump.
Minority Whip John Thune became the latest Senate Republican to endorse Georgia candidate Herschel Walker on Monday, following former President Donald Trump's official backing of the former pro football player on Sept. 2.
Thune told Politico that he was endorsing the Republican nominee Walker in his run in 2022 for the Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock because he is "a fighter, a uniter, and a proven winner."
Back in July, Thune, the senior senator from North Dakota, wondered whether Walker's alleged history of domestic abuse and questionable business dealings might make him a weak candidate. "He's got the wow factor, the celebrity factor," he told Politico. "But some of these issues he's going to have to figure out how to answer."
On Sept. 2, Trump announced his "Complete and Total Endorsement" of Walker, claiming he is "tough on Crime and Borders, and he will always stand in support of Law Enforcement, Military, and our Vets. He will fight hard for our Second Amendment and Voter Integrity" — virtually the identical language he uses to describe every candidate he backs.
"Herschel Walker will never let you down. He was a great football player and will be an even better U.S. Senator—if that is even possible," he added, omitting the fact that he had fired him during the 2009 season of his reality TV show "Celebrity Apprentice."
Walker, who lived in Texas for decades, changed his legal residency to Georgia in August to run for Senate.
In July, the Associated Press reported that court records showed that in 2005 his ex-wife received a protective court order against him, alleging violent behavior. She said he once aimed a gun at her and threatened to shoot her in the head. In 2001, she had made claims of "physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior" in divorce filings.
An ex-girlfriend claimed in a 2012 police report that Walker threatened to "blow her head off" when she tried to break off their relationship, though no charges were filed, according to an August report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Walker has denied these allegations.
But after the AP report came out, Thune said, "As a candidate you have to be able to respond to hard questions. And your background becomes an issue, your experience becomes an issue. Sometimes people who have success in one area of life and translate it to politics, it's not as easy as it looks."
In recent weeks, Walker's campaign has faced controversy after reports emerged that Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais, a film producer whose Twitter profile picture featured syringes in the shape of a swastika, was set to host a fundraiser for him.
At first, the campaign defended Viviano-Langlais, claiming that the image was "clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic" and that Walker "unequivocally opposes antisemitism and bigotry of all kinds."
A few hours later, it canceled the event, saying, "Despite the fact that the apparent intent behind the graphic was to condemn government vaccine mandates, the symbol used is very offensive and does not reflect the values of Herschel Walker or his campaign."
In 2015, after Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, Walker told TMZ he still backed Trump because "we do have to get this country safe. We have to quit being politically correct."
Walker faces several other Republicans in the race for the Senate nomination, including Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, construction company executive Kelvin King, and former Trump administration intelligence adviser Latham Saddler.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.