Sen. Lindsey Graham calls for Georgia to reshape Senate

Herschel Walker and Sen. Lindsey Graham speak at an Oct. 18 rally. (Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder)

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham crossed the border into Georgia Tuesday to lay out the stakes as he sees them in the Peach State’s Senate election, now just three weeks away.

“I’m your neighbor, and the reason I’m here is I’m tired of being canceled out by your two Democratic senators,” Graham told a friendly crowd gathered outside an art gallery in north Atlanta.

“If we had one more senator in Washington in the Republican column, I would be the budget chairman, not (Vermont independent Sen.) Bernie Sanders,” he added.

Graham’s preferred candidate, Republican Herschel Walker, is in a tight race with incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.

If Walker, a former University of Georgia football star, pulls off a win, it could give the GOP control of the Senate and allow them to curtail President Joe Biden’s plans for the rest of his term.

“It’s time to tell all your friends — and if you don’t have any friends, it’s now time for you to make some friends — get them to the polls, and take this election very seriously, as this may be the last best chance for you and your family to have an America that you can recognize. The stakes are high. I’ve never felt better about winning than I do right now.”

Tuesday’s appearance marks a return to the campaign trail after a heated debate on Friday. As Walker took the stage, he flashed an honorary police badge that became a point of contention at the debate. Walker pulled out the badge when Warnock criticized him for lying about being a police officer and once threatening to get into a shootout with police, earning the former Heisman trophy winner a scolding from the moderator for breaking a debate rule banning props.

Herschel Walker shows an honorary police badge. (Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder)

Walker is not a police officer. He has acknowledged a history of mental illness and said he has overcome his past issues. He did not appear at a Sunday Atlanta Press Club debate to which he was invited.

In his standard stump speech Tuesday, Walker said he will back the police, fight “wokeness” in the military and stop schools from what he calls indoctrinating students.

“I can promise you I won’t forget about America,” he said. “I won’t forget about what God has done for me. I found that Americans dream right here in the United States. I’m American. And all of you are my family, I don’t care what color you are.”

The crowd of more than 100 people gave Graham a friendly Georgia welcome, but Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants him to come back to answer some tough questions about his conduct in wake of Georgia’s 2020 election.

Her office is seeking Graham’s testimony in its investigation of whether former President Donald Trump sought to illegally overturn Georgia’s election results. Graham is trying to avoid testifying, arguing that his role as a senator protects him from questions about his legislative activities.

A federal judge denied his request, but Graham has told CNN he will take the matter to the Supreme Court if necessary. Graham did not comment on the grand jury subpoena at the rally.

Georgia Democrats criticized Walker for appearing with Graham, who has proposed a 15-week nationwide abortion ban.

“Today, Herschel Walker is campaigning with Senator (Lindsey) Graham in support of a nationwide abortion ban,” Warnock’s campaign said in an advisory to reporters. “Walker doesn’t support exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or even to save the life of the mother, saying, there’s ‘no exception in [his] mind.’ Walker has also said he would vote for the nationwide abortion ban introduced by Graham last month — saying ‘I WOULD support this policy.’”

Walker appeared to have altered his position on the debate stage Friday, saying he supports Georgia’s abortion law, which bans most abortions after six weeks and before most women know they are pregnant. The Georgia law includes exceptions including for ectopic pregnancies — when a fetus implants and begins to grow outside the uterus, threatening the woman’s life — and in cases of rape or incest when the pregnancy is less than 20 weeks along and the woman has filed a police report.