ATHENS, Ga. — Herschel Walker is new to “October Surprise” politics, but like the challenges he’s faced in the past, he’s heading into his Senate race undeterred by recent media attacks.
Walker spoke to Breitbart News in a wide-ranging interview on Saturday, shortly after a weekly spate of reports about his personal life broke and just before his alma mater played a home game, about two hours before his home . home in Atlanta.
“I’ve never heard of what they call ‘October surprises,’ but whatever they do now, like I always say, I’m moving on,” Walker said.
Walker, a former University of Georgia football star and NFL player, has been hit by a barrage of negative news coverage that began last Monday with a Daily Beast story about a woman who claimed Walker paid for her 2009 abortion.
Walker, who is staunchly pro-life, called the allegation a “plain lie”, but the story nevertheless sparked a firestorm. His 23-year-old son went on an online rampage denouncing his candidacy, and the abortion accuser, who is also the mother of another of Walker’s sons, has provided more ammunition in the form of text messages and other documentation to left-wing sources that will serve to drag him down. Walker about his past.
“Keeping on talking about something from yesterday or trying to bring up something from yesterday… I think it can make things very difficult. I think they’re trying to muddy the water a little bit, so I think the water is trying to be muddied a little bit,” Walker said.
Walker’s football fandom appears unwavering, no matter where he stands politically. Although he left the game 25 years ago, the Heisman Trophy winner appears to be a widespread excitement among football fans in Georgia, where the Bulldogs dominate and the sport is often described as a “religion.” And though Walker left the school just shy of graduating, he later endowed a scholarship there that remains active today and goes to one football player annually, a school official confirmed.
In Athens, scores of students and alumni wearing No. 34 jerseys, Walker’s retired number, thronged the densely populated college town ahead of the school’s game against Auburn.
Chance, a senior at the University of Georgia, was one of them. Asked if he planned to vote for Walker, Chance replied, “I already did.”
“It’s Herschel Walker. It supports a lot of what I like,” Chance said.
Nick, 18, said: “I read a lot and, yes, he clearly has some issues, but it’s enough for him to know what to vote yes or no.”
Walker has long been a mental health advocate and has been open about his struggle to overcome his diagnosis of identity disorder, which occurred in the wake of his football career.
Another young man in Athens, wearing a 34 jersey, who said he was a registered Democrat from Atlanta, said he liked Walker as an athlete “but not as a politician.”
Walker said he’s confident the latest news about him won’t deter voters, who he believes have lost trust in the media.
“I don’t really read a lot of the articles, but when I talk to people who are out in Georgia, they never talk about what they read in the paper because I think at this point everyone was like — I don’t want to disparage anyone in the media — but they’ve been so frustrated in the media because they’re not sure they can trust what’s real and what’s not real,” Walker said.
Polls show Walker currently in a dead heat with incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in one of the nation’s top midterm races. Walker argued that “the left is a bit scared” at the prospect of overturning Warnock’s seat.
“Right now, the left is kind of scared because people are going to vote for me because they know I care,” Walker said. “So they’re trying to do everything they can to turn people against me, but I think people know who I am. I do what I say and I say what I do.”
Having experienced a humble upbringing in Wrightsville, home to about 2,100 people, and having a resume far from that of the typical politician, Walker noted that he is “confused about some of the things that are out there.”
“And I’m not just kidding about that,” Walker said. “I’m totally confused because no one will actually write the real story and they don’t want to hear what the real story is. That’s why I’m saying I’m running, because I represent the people of Georgia, and the voters of Georgia are looking for someone who will go to Washington and do the right thing by them.”
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.