Walker’s response to Wadley had to be not only believable, but competent. Although the GOP Senate nominee has mostly locked in conservative voters in the party, Republicans know there are holdouts who worry about Walker’s fundamental ability to get the job done.
What Walker offered instead was a hodgepodge of childhood stories, football highlights and biblical allegories, all delivered to a bewildered crowd of shiftworkers, who had been laid off at the construction site of wood to populate Walker’s event.
He never mentioned the allegations against him or his position on abortion, or even the fact that he is a candidate for the United States Senate.
“Everyone knows the fame, but they don’t know the story, and I have a story,” Walker said.
He explained that he was the kind of kid “who wasn’t supposed to make it”, but that with God’s help he became excellent at football.
But he really didn’t want to play football, he said, or go to college. Once at the University of Georgia, he said he didn’t want to leave early to play professionally. With a combination of coin tossing and some guidance from his mother, he finally chose the path he took.
He recounted his days with the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, joining the 1992 Olympic bobsled team, and how he started his chicken business, only to then take eight months off to train for fights. ‘Martial Arts.
“God bless you guys,” he said to polite applause. “Thanks for coming.”
Walker later told the swarm of national and local reporters, “I know why you’re here. You are here because the Democrats desperately want to keep this seat here.
He also insisted that none of the Daily Beast stories were true and that he knew nothing of his son Christian’s allegations that he had committed “atrocities” against his family.
“This abortion story is fake. It’s a lie. Everything that happened with my ex-wife and what Christian is talking about, I don’t know.
If voters were looking for Walker’s skill last week, they got nothing but chaos.
His campaign seemed back on track this week when GOP Sens. Tom Cotton and Rick Scott flew in to reinforce Walker on the campaign trail.
The two avowed conservatives have made it clear that the only thing they care about running for the Senate is how it affects the balance of power in Washington.
Cotton told an enthusiastic group of GOP voters in Carrollton that the Arkansas Razorbacks were still unhappy with Walker’s football prowess, but they forgave him “because they want the Republicans back in power at Washington”.
Neither he nor Scott ever mentioned the allegations against Walker, with Cotton only referring to “all the lies they tell” in the TV ads.
“Herschel Walker will be a champion in the United States Senate,” he applauded. The two senators, both seasoned politicians, then took questions from reporters, but, tellingly, Walker did not.
If there’s one thing we know about voters, it’s that they can forgive almost anything, especially when it comes to the abuse of women, if a candidate gives them a path to get there.
Bill Clinton’s Oval Office affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky threatened to topple his presidency. But after a semi-thorough apology and a totally botched GOP impeachment, Clinton’s approval rating soared to an astonishing 73%.
And barely a month after Donald Trump was caught on camera bragging about grabbing women where, really, no woman wants to be grabbed by Donald Trump, he was elected president.
So it’s entirely possible that not all of the allegations and evidence against Walker will sink his candidacy, no matter how violent or shocking. But his answer so far – deny, deflect and blame Democrats, absolutely could. Any Republican voter who was waiting to see Walker’s skill is still waiting.
But no one in Carrollton needed to hear more to back him on Tuesday.
A man said to me as he was leaving, “I think we have a choice between two sinners. You choose the one with the best platform.
State Sen. Mike Dugan, the Republican who represents the area in the state Legislature, said he’s with Walker and believes the former footballer has been candid with voters.
When I asked if Walker had been candid about his four children or an abortion he could have afforded, Duggan replied: “Would you expect to be asked questions about everything did you do in 3rd or 5th grade?”
He added: “When you run for office you expect everything you have done in your life to come out. It’s just that all my skeletons are on my porch.