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For Republicans, Herschel Walker’s candidacy is too big to fail

Why are Republican leaders rallying behind Herschel Walker despite his newest scandal? Because they care more about winning than their principles.


It would be an exaggeration to say the Republican Party never abandons its own candidates in the wake of controversy. It was, after all, just two weeks ago when Ohio’s J.R. Majewski was caught making claims about his military service that didn’t stand up well to scrutiny, at which point the National Republican Congressional Committee promptly abandoned him.

Now that Herschel Walker has been credibly accused of paying for an abortion for one of his ex-girlfriends, despite running on a platform of a no-exceptions abortions ban, is there any chance his party will give up on the increasingly cringe-worthy candidate? Evidently not. NBC News reported:

National Republicans are rushing to defend Herschel Walker in the wake of a bombshell report that the Senate candidate in the hotly contested battleground state of Georgia paid for a woman’s abortion in 2009.

In Georgia, some prominent GOP voices did not appear overly eager to rally behind the troubled Senate candidate, but at the national level, Republicans treated the latest allegations as utterly meaningless.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the super PAC aligned with the Senate Republican leadership, and the super PAC aligned with Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America all announced that they’re sticking with Walker. Donald Trump, who practically begged the former football player to move from Texas to Georgia for this race, also issued a statement of support.

Walker’s campaign claimed that the controversy had boosted his fundraising, and when the GOP candidate showed up for a church event in Atlanta yesterday, evangelical Christians gave him a standing ovation. (Walker has denied the abortion allegation.)

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes made an observation via Twitter yesterday that stood out for me. “I just want to be clear that in the moral cosmology of Herschel Walker and Republicans the accusation is that he paid to have his child murdered,” Chris wrote.

Quite right. As far as Walker, his party and other staunch opponents of abortion rights are concerned, a fertilized egg is a human being. To terminate a pregnancy, they argue, is to murder a child. By this reasoning, the Republican Senate hopeful has been credibly accused — complete with a canceled check and a signed get-well card — of financing the execution of his own baby.

And many of those who claim to care deeply about this issue are apparently wholly indifferent to the believable allegations.

There’s no great mystery as to why. Dana Loesch, a conservative media personality, declared yesterday, “I am concerned about one thing, and one thing only, at this point. So I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles — I want control of the Senate.”

It was a crude summary, but it was also helpful in capturing an important post-policy perspective: Republicans want to acquire power. Period. Full stop. To borrow an expression, Walker could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and his principle-free party would promptly say, “Murder, schmurder, just give us the Senate seat.”

Why would Republicans drop Majewski like a hot potato, but stand by Walker? Because the party has made a cold calculus: The GOP is well positioned to win a House majority without Majewski’s Ohio district, but taking control of the Senate will be vastly more difficult without flipping Sen. Raphael Warnock’s seat in Georgia.

In other words, for Republicans, Hershel Walker is too big to fail.

The candidate, his team and his party couldn’t have been too surprised by The Daily Beast’s scoop. Politico noted yesterday that rumors about Walker paying for an abortion had circulated for months, and his aides simply hoped that the news wouldn’t break before Election Day. Axios added that Walker has effectively been sitting on a “ticking time bomb.”

On Monday night, the proverbial bomb exploded. Republicans responded by saying they didn’t care.

Postscript: It’s a moot point, but under state election law, it’s already too late for GOP officials to replace Walker on the ballot, even if they wanted to.