Herschel Walker tests his party's patience with own words: The Note

He has offered incomplete statements and hasn't filed a promised lawsuit.

October 6, 2022, 6:06 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

In keeping his party united behind him, Herschel Walker is the beneficiary of years' worth of battles waged by others -- media-intensive fights over congressional candidates, Supreme Court justices and, of course, former President Donald Trump.

But Walker himself may pose the biggest challenge from here to efforts to keep the GOP behind his Senate candidacy in Georgia.

In the days since his latest scandal broke -- when he denied a news report that he paid for an ex-girlfriend's abortion in 2009 -- he has offered incomplete statements in his defense and has not filed the lawsuit against The Daily Beast that he promised.

He spent the last two days ducking media coverage, save for a pair of Fox News interviews where he offered denials but also said he is "living proof that you can make mistakes" and suggested that son Christian, who publicly denounced him, is enabling "the left" by saying he believes the latest allegations.

Thursday brings Walker's first public event in days, a "Unite Georgia" bus-tour stop where it will be harder to avoid questions from the press.

Prominent Republicans in Georgia have been notably less quick to vouch for his version of events on this or other matters, even as they stand with him as their only chance at this point in a pivotal state. Numerous Walker supporters interviewed by ABC News this week in Georgia say they just don't care about his past actions enough to rethink their choice.

One thing that might help Walker is that he's been there before -- battling allegations, making denials and even making things more confusing with what he has said. "There might not be many voters left to turn on Walker" in a state with few true "swing" voters, FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich writes.

For all that, it's more than conceivable that Walker wins his race against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. That remains Republicans' hope -- with faith placed in Walker to run the same game-plan that got him to this point.

PHOTO: Georgia Republican US Senate candidate Herschel Walker participates in his Unite Georgia Bus Tour in Forsyth, Ga., Sept. 29, 2022.
Georgia Republican US Senate candidate Herschel Walker participates in his Unite Georgia Bus Tour in Forsyth, Ga., Sept. 29, 2022.
Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

The OPEC+ alliance's decision to cut oil production in November to shore up prices could be a blow to President Joe Biden and Democrats more broadly, as the nation closes in on midterm elections and the party in power hopes to keep domestic gas prices and other costs on the downswing.

The alliance is slated to cut production quotas by two million barrels a day, which could result in higher prices at the gas pump for Americans already struggling to keep up with high costs from inflation and other forces.

The OPEC+ news comes after Biden's summer trip to the Middle East during which he urged leaders in the region to up production to bring costs down -- which have been a major drag on the president's approval ratings.

Soaring costs would run counter to midterm messaging from the White House touting lower gas prices and progress in the continued fight against inflation via legislative wins like the Inflation Reduction Act.

Administration officials expressed dissatisfaction on Wednesday with the oil producing group's move.

"The president is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC+ to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of [Vladimir] Putin's invasion of Ukraine," the White House said in a statement from the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese.

The White House has said that 10 million oil barrels from the country's Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be released next month, a tactic that could help keep prices down. But if that effort is unsuccessful, it could spell trouble for Democrats just before votes are tallied in crucial elections.

PHOTO: An OPEC flag is displayed on the day of OPEC+ meeting in Vienna, Austria, Oct. 5, 2022.
An OPEC flag is displayed on the day of OPEC+ meeting in Vienna, Austria, Oct. 5, 2022.
Lisa Leutner/Reuters

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin and Republican state Sen. Tom Barrett are set to face off Thursday evening in their final debate of the midterm season after having already clashed on stage last month.

Thursday's debate is happening a week after early voting opened to Michigan voters who requested absentee ballots and puts one of the nation's most competitive congressional districts in the spotlight in the wake of census-mandated map redrawing.

According to FiveThirtyEight, the new boundaries of Michigan's 7th District -- where Slotkin and Barrett are campaigning -- slightly narrowed to a +4 Republican partisan lean from its 2020 partisan leaning of +6. Although Slotkin has already served two terms in a district that had a higher Republican leaning, it remains to be seen whether national policy issues surrounding abortion and the economy impact the race.

Meanwhile, in another redrawn and competitive seat, Slotkin's Democratic colleague Elaine Luria of Virginia is facing the opposite issue when it comes to partisan leans. Virginia's 2nd District -- where Luria has served since 2019 -- used to be more evenly split, with a +2 Republican lean in 2020, which grew to a +6 lean as the district stretched farther to the west after redistricting. As evidenced by ongoing hits from the National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional Leadership Fund that tie Luria to Biden, the slight shift could be giving the GOP hope of claiming the district this fall due to evolving national sentiments.

Redistricting could offer better odds for Democrats in Texas' 34th District, despite it being occupied by Republican Rep. Mayra Flores, who won the deep blue area in a special election earlier this year. Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez -- who currently represents the neighboring 15th -- is running in place of retired Rep. Filemon Vela, whose vacancy opened the doors for Flores' victory.

The race now puts two House incumbents against one another, but the +17 Democratic partisan leaning could complicate the sprint to November.

PHOTO: Representative Elissa Slotkin gives remarks in Howell, Mich., Oct. 5, 2021.
Representative Elissa Slotkin gives remarks in Howell, Mich., Oct. 5, 2021.
Sipa USA via AP, FILE

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Thursday morning with new reporting from Florida as President Biden views Hurricane Ian's devastation on the ground. ABC's Mary Bruce leads us off. Then ABC's Alexis Christoforous explains the significance of OPEC+'s decision to cut oil production. And, ABC's Steve Osunsami reports on why homeschooling has surged in popularity, particularly among Black families. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

Hulu

Power Trip

"Power Trip" follows 7 young reporters as they chase down candidates in the lead up to the midterms with George Stephanopoulos guiding them along the way.

ONE MORE THING

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said she has continuing doubts about voting equity in her upcoming rematch with incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, telling ABC News in a new interview that she would "not question the outcome of the election" but would continue to "question the process." In a sit-down with ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott that will air Oct. 9 on Hulu's "Power Trip," Abrams said: "I have always acknowledged the outcome of elections. What is deeply concerning to me is the conflation of access to the right to vote and the outcome of elections." https://abcn.ws/3M9Qjvv

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Biden tours IBM at 1:20 p.m ET before delivering remarks about jobs at 2 p.m. ET. He then travels to Red Bank New Jersey for a Democratic fundraiser at 5 p.m. ET.
  • Arizona Senate candidates Mark Kelly, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican challenger Blake Masters appear at a debate at 9 p.m. ET.

Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

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

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