ICYMI: GPB News: “Herschel Walker’s Senate run is heavy on Fox News spots and curated, closed-door campaign stops”

October 20, 2021

Today, Georgia Public Broadcasting published a report on U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s “curated” and “closed-door” campaign — chronicling Republican frustrations about what “Walker actually believes and would do if elected,” and worries about how long his “campaign for public office conducted largely in private” can feasibly continue without answering questions on the minds of Georgians. 

Read some highlights here, and find the full story linked below:

Herschel Walker’s Senate run is heavy on Fox News spots and curated, closed-door campaign stops

Stephen Fowler, GPB News, 10/20/21

  • Herschel Walker has been no stranger to the limelight over the years, but his bid to become a U.S. senator so far has been a quieter, closed-door affair.
  • Apart from a prominent speech at a Trump rally in Perry, the former University of Georgia football star has largely juked typical campaign events, fundraisers and media interviews in favor of friendlier conversations on conservative media outlets such as Fox News. 
  • A GPB News analysis finds Walker has done about two dozen interviews in the eight weeks since launching his campaign, almost exclusively with Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity.
  • “I think you’ve got to get out and you’ve got to see the people and let the people know who you are, let the people know what you can do for this state,” [Walker] said. 
  • A few days later, Walker’s campaign skipped one of the largest Republican events of the year, the 8th District GOP fish fry in Perry.
  • Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, one of three other Republicans vying for the party’s nomination, said showing up to events like the fish fry was important connect with the voters a senator is supposed to serve.
  • “Those folks are the personnel committee for the state of Georgia,” he said. “The United States Senate seat is a job, it’s not celebrity. There are people that need to be served because it’s a job under our Constitution. The personnel committee will hire who they want to do that job.”
  • For some conservatives, Trump’s endorsement of Walker is secondary to questions about what Walker actually believes and would do if elected.
  • Former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who endorsed Black, said on his radio show late August that Walker’s campaign was “heavy on coming from Wrightsville, Georgia, and very low on policies and beliefs.” 
  • One anonymous party insider supporting Walker’s campaign vented days later to the Washington Examiner that the former University of Georgia standout “appears to have gone back to the comfort of his war room” instead of blanketing the state with campaign appearances.
  • Democrats and Republicans alike have questioned Walker’s campaign strategy, arguing he is hiding from voters, the media and potentially hard questions about policy positions. Conservative radio hosts across Georgia and beyond have commented on Walker’s lack of presence.
  • “For me, the million-dollar question is, is ‘Herschel Walker a conservative? Yes or no?’ And then I like to see the record,” conservative commentator Todd Starnes said on his radio show in early October. “That’s all. And I think that is a fair thing to ask.”
  • Walker’s campaign website has five sentences of biography, an email sign-up list and a donate button — and no issues page. His interviews with national right-leaning media outlets have rarely dealt with policy questions pertinent to working in the Senate. The campaign has often deflected on questions of the day on topics ranging from vaccines to Mitch McConnell to abortion, and according to Facebook’s Ad Library, the Walker campaign has spent nearly $280,000 on ads that feature Trump and fundraising pleas with no mention specific issues or stances. 
  • Getting out to Georgians is a recurring theme in his interviews, including two interviews during which Hannity asked Walker about a promise to go into “every town, every city and every church, any place you’re invited.”
  • “I don’t care whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican; I am here to represent you,” he said. “Everything that the Democrats want, I guarantee is what I want.”
  • Even the best-laid plans to stay under the radar can go awry, like last week when the campaign had to cancel a fundraiser in Texas following a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the sponsor had a swastika made of vaccine needles as a profile picture on social media. A campaign spokeswoman initially defended the image as “clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic” before backtracking and saying “the symbol used is very offensive and does not reflect the values of Herschel Walker or his campaign” — one of the few instances the campaign has shed light on Walker’s values.
  • Walker has apparently held a listening tour of stops across the state, such as a recent festival in Hiawassee with singer Lee Greenwood. But these visits with businesses and small groups of voters have happened without advance notice, so the only record of his campaigning are curated photos and videos on social media.
  • As Walker is the most visible candidate in Trump’s slate of GOP challengers seeking to remake Georgia politics, it’s unclear how long a campaign for public office conducted largely in private will continue. But with more than six months until the Senate primary, the playbook seems to be settled for now.


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