Diners packed Longstreet Cafe Wednesday, July 27, for a chance to meet Herschel Walker, and for some of them a vote for Walker is simple: He’s a Bulldog.
One woman brandished her Georgia Bulldogs cane when asked why she was voting for Walker in his race against Raphael Warnock for one of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats.
Walker stopped by Hall County for the second time in a little over a week, making a guest appearance on Fox & Friends, America’s most-watching morning cable news show, which aired from the Gainesville diner.
In a brief segment, host Brian Kilmeade asked Walker why he hasn’t committed to a debate with Warnock. Walker said he’s willing to debate as long as Warnock and his team aren’t left to dictate the terms or handpick the moderator.
The latest TV ad from Warnock, which began airing Tuesday, accuses Walker of “dodging” debates.
Walker was also asked about the children he fathered but hadn’t spoken about publicly until news broke last month. He said his children want to stay out of the media spotlight, adding that one of them has been accompanied by a security guard.
Kilmeade asked Walker to explain his confusing comments on climate change, in which he appeared to blame China’s “bad air” for U.S. air pollution. Walker pivoted to the economy, saying Americans are more concerned about that.
Beyond football fandom, a vote for Walker is also straightforward on political grounds, some diners said.
“One’s a Democrat, one’s a Republican,” said Ralph Hilliard, who has lived in Gainesville for 8 years. “One’s conservative, one’s not.”
Others drew similarities between Walker and former President Donald Trump.
“I’m an avid Trump supporter, and I think Herschel is following his lead,” Chuck Bancroft, 87, said. “When Trump was president, the economy was fabulous,” said Marianne Landers, 77, who immigrated from Germany to Gainesville more than 50 years ago. She said Warnock “seems to be a big hypocrite,” citing his support of abortion as a reverend.
She expressed a desire to see a return of Trump-era immigration policies. The inflow of illegal immigrants is “burning me up,” she said.
Some local government officials were also present, including Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon and Shelly Echols, a Hall County commissioner who is running as a Republican for state Senate District 49.
Echols said “a vote for Warnock is a vote for Biden,” repeating Walker’s claim that Warnock has voted with Biden 96% of the time.
Walker carries some baggage, she said, but so does Warnock.
“That dude’s not clean,” she said. “He’s got his own scandals,” noting Warnock’s custody battle with his ex-wife, and “allegations about wrong doings,” though she did not provide specifics.
Many seemed to support Walker because he’s on their team: He’s a Bulldog, and he’s a conservative.
“I’m a Bulldog,” said 48-year-old Carla Towe, when asked why she’s voting for Walker. “His values line up more with what I think should be in government.”