GOP faces make-or-break realities in Georgia for Walker: The Note

The past week of Walker stories has been filled with what-ifs for Republicans.

October 11, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The past week of Herschel Walker stories has been filled with what-ifs for Republicans -- counterfactuals pondering the benefits of pre-primary vetting, the costs of Trump loyalty and even how the latest scandal might have been turned into a boon for the candidate in the center of it all with a different initial reaction.

Now, Republicans are trying to turn toward what might still be. Walker is seeking a reset around his campaign with national GOP figures front and center, even as state-level Republicans hesitate just a bit in offering full-throated support from here.

Walker's "Unite Georgia Bus Tour" on Tuesday will include a stop in Carrollton, Georgia, featuring Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. That's the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a younger and no-less-ambitious colleague, making clear they stand behind Walker despite the drip-drip of stories that have brought confusing and sometimes contradictory answers.

"I never heard of whatever they call 'October surprises,' but whatever they're doing now, as I always say, I move forward," Walker told Breitbart.

At the national level, Republicans have little choice but to try to move forward with Walker. Georgia, in addition to its famously complicated history with former President Donald Trump, sent two Republicans to the Senate through the Trump years and now sends none; the state is the likeliest to determine the majority this year, according to FiveThirtyEight's Senate forecast.

In his latest interview, Walker said the people of Georgia know him: "I do what I say, and I say what I do." That's an assertion now being tested rather directly in his race.

PHOTO: Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks during a campaign event in Wadley, Ga., Oct. 6, 2022.
Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks during a campaign event in Wadley, Ga., Oct. 6, 2022.
Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

With debate season underway, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance faced off Monday night in Ohio's first Senate debate.

The pair exchanged near-immediate blows over abortion, with Ryan claiming that Vance called those getting pregnant from rape an "inconvenience," which Vance pushed back on, saying he has never uttered those words, ABC News' Paulina Tam reports. The Senate hopefuls also took swipes over the opioid crisis: Vance alleged Ryan did "nothing to stop the flow of fentanyl," while Ryan brought up Vance's shuttered nonprofit, which he alleged was a fake pursuit.

When asked whether he wanted President Joe Biden to run in 2024, Ryan answered "no."

"I like to see a generational change. With Mitch McConnell. Donald Trump. The president. Everybody," the congressman said.

Leading up to the debate, Vance focused his messaging on the issue of crime in Ohio and pledged to prioritize increased funding for police, if he were to be elected. The approach is also visible in rhetoric from Republicans in other battlegrounds such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- in both states, Republicans are labeling their Democratic opponents in various ads as being soft on crime.

In Wisconsin on Friday, Democratic Senate candidate and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes challenged incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson about Republicans' ads regarding his position on ending cash bail in the state, which he once sponsored as a state lawmaker. According to Barnes, the ads were "mischaracterized" and "sensationalized."

While the pair of Wisconsinites is set to debate again for a final time on Thursday, voters in Pennsylvania -- where Dr. Mehmet Oz and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman are lobbing personal and political attacks -- are still two weeks away from seeing their Senate candidates take to the debate stage. Oz and Fetterman have agreed to a debate on Oct. 25.

PHOTO: Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican candidate J.D. Vance, of Ohio are pictured in composited file images.
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican candidate J.D. Vance, of Ohio are pictured in composited file images.
Getty Images, FILE

The TIP with Brittany Shepherd

Just days before Rep. Liz Cheney makes her final stand as the vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday, the woman who ousted her from her spot in the next Congress may be eclipsing her spotlight.

Harriet Hageman, the former Cheney adviser-turned-Trumpian firebrand who handily defeated Cheney in Wyoming's Republican primary, has joined Iowa Republicans as one of their marquee guests as they host get-out-the-vote rallies and party events ahead of the midterms.

On Tuesday, Hageman is set to attend several events with Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, including headlining the Scott County Republican Party's 14th Annual Ronald Reagan Dinner, an event known to pull national party stars, including presidential candidates, and sitting members of Congress.

What makes Hageman's recent swing through the Hawkeye State so notable beyond the counterprogramming element is that she's neither a presidential candidate nor a sitting member of Congress -- in fact, she has very few political bona fides. The attorney ran and lost her bid for Wyoming governor in 2018 and was the Republican National committeewoman representing her home state for two years.

The tour also shows other state parties' willingness to not only accept but apotheose the most conservative flank of their ranks. Hageman is an unapologetic election denier and unrelenting supporter of former President Trump (though she once maintained a firm never-Trump posture and condemned him as "xenophobic").

PHOTO: Harriet Hageman reacts as she speaks to supporters during a primary election night party in Cheyenne, Wyo., Aug. 16, 2022.
Harriet Hageman reacts as she speaks to supporters during a primary election night party in Cheyenne, Wyo., Aug. 16, 2022.
Michael Smith/Getty Images, FILE


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Tuesday morning with ABC's Britt Clennett after Russia unleashed its most widespread attacks against Ukraine in months. Then, ABC's Rick Klein breaks down what to know a month ahead of the midterm elections. And, ABC's Devin Dwyer explains a Supreme Court battle over "cruelty" to pregnant pigs and how it could affect pork prices.


  • President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders at 8 a.m. ET to discuss support for Ukraine and holding Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable.
  • Biden delivers virtual remarks at the Summit on Fire Prevention and Control at 2:30 p.m. ET.
  • Biden participates in a virtual reception for Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester at 6:45 p.m. ET.
  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will brief at 1:15 p.m. ET.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Wednesday for the latest.

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