“The previously scheduled event has been called off,” said Mallory Blount, a spokeswoman for Walker’s campaign. “Herschel is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community and opposes hatred and bigotry of all forms. Despite the fact that the apparent intent behind the graphic was to condemn government vaccine mandates, the symbol used is very offensive and does not reflect the values of Herschel Walker or his campaign.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported that Walker would attend an event in Texas this weekend hosted by Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais, a film producer. Her Twitter account included a profile picture of a rendering of a swastika made out of medical needles. The image has been used by opponents of vaccine mandates. Viviano-Langlais has since removed the image.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Walker spokeswoman had defended Viviano-Langlais’ profile picture as an “anti-mandatory vaccination graphic” in a statement to the AJC.
Walker, a former football star whose candidacy is backed by former President Donald Trump, is running for the GOP nomination in what’s likely to be one of the most competitive Senate races of 2022. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who was elected in a runoff in Georgia earlier this year, is running for a full six-year term.
Georgia Democrats attacked Walker over the issue Wednesday. “Herschel Walker defended a swastika, and canceling a fundraiser does not change the fact that he failed to condemn a hateful, anti-Semitic symbol,” Democratic Party of Georgia spokesman Dan Gottlieb said in a statement.
Walker has faced questions about his troubled personal history, including allegations recently uncovered by CNN Investigates and other news outlets that he threatened women with violence beyond what he disclosed in his memoir.