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'Warrior of God' Herschel Walker campaigns in Gainesville for Senate seat
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Herschel Walker speaks during a rally Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at Carroll Daniel in downtown Gainesville during a stop of his Senate campaign bus tour. - photo by Scott Rogers

Herschel Walker delivered a boisterous and frenetic speech Thursday evening at a campaign stop in Gainesville, declaring himself a “warrior of God” who will lead Georgians to the “promised land” if they give him enough votes to beat Sen. Raphael Warnock in the Dec. 6 runoff election. 

A crowd of people gathered in the parking lot of Carroll Daniel Construction, braving the icy weather to hear Walker speak. 

Democrats already have an effective majority in the Senate after winning 50 seats in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Even if Walker wins, the Democrats will retain control of the chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris wielding a tie-breaking vote. 

In Georgia, a candidate must win more than half the vote to avoid a runoff. Less than 1% of the vote separated Warnock and Walker, with Warnock ahead by more than 36,000 votes. 

On Thursday, Walker employed familiar Republican talking points, warning about the perils of a porous southern border, transgenderism in sports, relying on foreign “enemies” for oil and blamed Warnock for inflation. 

“Have y’all seen your utility bill lately? Has it gone up? That’s because of Sen. Warnock. Have y’all seen your gas bill. Has it gone up? That’s because of Sen. Warnock.” 

Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon took the stage earlier in the evening and urged people to vote for Walker. 

“It’s imperative that we have Herschel as our next U.S. senator,” he said. “Go Dawgs and go Herschel. Let’s take it across the finish line.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham took the stage next and said the stakes for Walker’s race are high. 

“If we win this seat, it changes the course of the country,” he said. “It changes the Republican Party forever.”

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R, South Carolina, speaks Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at Carroll Daniel in downtown Gainesville as part of Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker's campaign bus tour. - photo by Scott Rogers

In one of the more unusual moments, Walker accused Warnock of “bringing pronouns in our military.”

“Y’all know that? He bringing pronouns in our military. … What the heck is a pronoun? I don’t even know what a pronoun is. … Get out of Washington talking about pronouns.” 

He said Warnock has betrayed Georgians by serving the interests of President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. Throughout his campaign, he has repeated the claim that Warnock has voted with Biden 96% of the time. 

“He went to Washington and forgot all about (Georgians),” he said. “So what he did, he went to Washington and hugged up with Joe Biden, hugged up with Joe Biden, and that's the reason that we got all the crime in the streets because he called all men and women in blue thugs and bullies.” 

Walker again compared himself to Ricky Bobby, the fictional NASCAR driver in the comedy film “Talladega Nights” whose famous catchline is, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” 

He made repeated appeals to the Bible, telling the crowd at one point that he was “washed in the blood of Jesus” after a stint in a mental hospital. Walker has been open about his mental health struggles, writing about them in a 2008 book called “Breaking Free.” 

Walker’s campaign has been dogged by controversy, including accusations that he behaved violently toward his ex-wife and reports that he paid for abortions for two former girlfriends, despite his public opposition to abortion rights. 

Peggy Wright, 70, supports Walker and said abortion is the issue she is most concerned about. Holding an anti-abortion sign, she said “we need to save the unborn.” When asked if there should be exceptions for rape and incest, she said women in those cases should have the baby and give it up for adoption. 

When asked about reports that Walker paid for abortions for two former girlfriends, Lawrence Vaughan, 61, said “show me the proof.”