GOP Senate hopeful Herschel Walker cancels fundraiser amid outrage over supporter’s use of swastika
Retired football star and Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker has cancelled a fundraiser after the host was found to have a swastika as her Twitter profile picture.
Mr Walker is running to be the GOP’s nominee in the 2022 Senate election in his home state of Georgia and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
His campaign to unseat Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock got off to a solid start, raising $3.7m in just over a month after launching.
However, his latest fundraising event, at the Texas home of a conservative film producer, is now no longer happening.
The campaign came under a torrent of criticism after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais had the Nazi symbol, formed out of a set of syringes, as her Twitter profile picture.
Mr Walker’s campaign initially contended that the symbol was not a swastika. It was removed from Ms Viviano-Langlais’ profile shortly after the story was published.
The paper says that the symbol is being used by some opponents of vaccine mandates in Texas.
A spokesperson for the Walker campaign initially said that the symbol is “clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic”.
Hours later, the campaign distanced itself from Ms Viviano-Langlais’ use of the symbol and stated that Mr Walker is against antisemitism and bigotry “in all forms”.
A statement from the campaign reads: “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.”
Democrats were quick to point out the apparent initial defence of the graphic.
“Herschel Walker defended a swastika, and canceling a fundraiser does not change the fact that he failed to condemn a hateful, anti-Semitic symbol,” said Dan Gottlieb of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Jewish groups were appalled by the use of the symbol.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America called it “absolutely vile” and the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon said it was “beyond unacceptable”, adding that “a swastika is a swastika”.
The Journal-Constitution reports that Ms Viviano-Langlais posted that she removed the symbol from her profile, not because it was antisemitic, which she claimed she did not intend it to be, but because of “the left’s need to silence free speech”.
The event outside of Dallas costs attendees $500 to attend a reception and $5,800 for VIP treatment.
Ms Viviano-Langlais’ Twitter profile picture is now a photo of a sign reading “God Bless Texas”.