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Abortion allegation rocks Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Heisman Trophy winner and Republican candidate for Senate Herschel Walker speaks at a rally on May 23, 2022 in Athens, Ga.
Heisman Trophy winner and Republican candidate for Senate Herschel Walker speaks at a rally on May 23, 2022 in Athens, Ga.Megan Varner / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... The National Archives asked for missing documents from Trump back in May 2021. ... A USA Today/Suffolk poll has Democrat John Fetterman up over Mehmet Oz, 46%-40% among likely voters in Pennsylvania Senate. ... A Mason-Dixon poll finds GOP Sen. Marco Rubio ahead 47%-41% among likely voters in Florida Senate. ... GOP candidates Doug Mastriano, Don Bolduc and Blake Masters begin to spend more over the airwaves. … And it’s exactly five weeks until Election Day. 

But first: Our first October surprise is already in the books, and it’s jaw-dropping.

Even by today’s political standards. 

On Monday night, The Daily Beast reported that Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker urged a then-girlfriend to get an abortion after getting her pregnant in 2009, according to the woman who asked not to be identified out of privacy concerns. 

Walker then reimbursed her after the procedure, The Daily Beast added. 

After the report, Walker’s son — a conservative commentator — lashed out at his father, calling him a liar and a hypocrite. 

NBC News has not yet verified these allegations against Walker or independently reviewed the documents The Daily Beast cites. In a tweet, Walker denied the allegations “in the strongest possible terms” and said he would a file a lawsuit against The Daily Beast on Tuesday morning.

But it’s not the only bombshell that’s rocked Walker and his campaign in his close race against incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga. 

He’s been accused of holding a gun to his ex-wife’s head (Walker has blamed mental-health struggles for the incident). 

He falsely claimed he was a law-enforcement member. 

And he admitted to having three children out of wedlock, after earlier reports from The Daily Beast.

Our take: Under the old rules — before Donald Trump and 2016 — this Senate race would be pretty much over. 

But under the new rules — in our post-Trump, more partisan political world — we’re not as sure. 

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 52%

That’s how many registered Latino Democrats (and leaners) say that they supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 primaries, per the new NBC News/Telemundo Latino poll, a significantly larger share than the broader electorate polled in NBC’s latest national poll. 

While a majority of these Latinos say they backed Biden in 2020, 40% of registered voters at large said so in the September NBC News national poll. Latinos were slightly less likely to say they supported other Democratic candidates in 2020. 

On the other hand, Latino Republicans are slightly more likely to consider themselves more supporters of former President Donald Trump than the broader GOP electorate. Latinos broke for Trump over the Republican Party 40% to 55%, while Republicans in last month’s NBC national poll were split 33% for Trump and 58% for the Republican Party. 

Read more on the Meet the Press Blog

Other numbers to know:

106: The number of confirmed deaths in America from Hurricane Ian so far, per a count from NBC News and local officials. 

2.7%: How much the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased on Monday, a turnaround from the recent decline. 

47%: The share of Americans in a new Monmouth poll who prefer that Republicans control Congress, while 44% prefer Democrats. 

$475 million: How much in damages former President Donald Trump is seeking as part of a defamation suit against CNN. 

$1.3 million: The Securities and Exchange Commission fine that Kim Kardashian will pay after not disclosing she was paid to promote a cryptocurrency

Midterm roundup: GOP stragglers begin to pony up

A trio of GOP candidates who had been quiet on the airwaves made TV buys on Monday, with just five weeks to go until Election Day.

Pennsylvania GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano made his first TV buy of the governor’s race, spending $415,000 on a week of ads starting today, per AdImpact (WGAL-8 reports the buy is $1 million in total). His first spot discusses his leadership in the military

In New Hampshire, retired Brigadier Gen. Don Bolduc made his first ad buy of the Senate race, spending $130,000 on the airwaves, and teaming up with the National Republican Senatorial Committee on a $137,000 buy, per AdImpact. His first spot takes a similar tack, a focus on his military service.

And in Arizona, Republican Blake Masters placed a $625,000, his first sizable spending on ads in a month. 

All three candidates have been vastly outspent on the airwaves by their Democratic opponents, so it remains to be seen whether this is too little, too late. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Arizona and Ohio Senate: CNBC reports that billionaire Peter Thiel told attendees at a recent fundraiser for Masters that he believes Republican J.D. Vance is in a good position to win his Senate race, so his allies should focus on helping Masters.

Florida Senate: A new Mason-Dixon live-caller poll of likely voters finds Republican Sen. Marco Rubio leading Democratic Rep. Val Demings 47%-41% with 10% undecided. 

North Carolina Senate: A new WRAL News poll found a hotly contested Senate race, with 43% of likely voters backing GOP Rep. Ted Budd and 42% supporting Democrat Cheri Beasley, while 13% are undecided. Politico reports that some Democratic leaders want the party to spend more to help Beasley in a race they believe they can win. 

Nevada Senate: Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto announced that she raised $15 million in the third fundraising quarter. The New York Times reports from Nevada that Democrats are at risk of losing her race, as well as other marquee contests for governor and the House, as their “vulnerabilities in Nevada reflect Democrats’ challenges nationwide, most acutely in the West.”

Pennsylvania Senate: Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is launching a “Republicans for Fetterman” effort, which will include TV and digital ads, NBC10’s Lauren Mayk reports. Republican Mehmet Oz announced Tuesday morning that he raised $17.2 million in the third fundraising quarter, which includes a $7 million loan from Oz himself.

Utah Senate: Independent Evan McMullin announced a $2.5 million haul in the third quarter. 

Arizona Governor: Republican nominee Kari Lake will campaign Wednesday with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. 

Minnesota Governor: CNN reports that Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Jenson shared a repeatedly disproven claim that schools are putting out litter boxes for children “because they identify as a furry.” 

Oregon Governor: All three gubernatorial hopefuls — Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and Independent Betsy Johnson — will face off in a debate tonight on KATU. 

Pennsylvania-07: The DCCC is up with a new ad reminiscent of the 2012 attacks on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, where the narrator attacks Republican Lisa Scheller and accuses her of shutting down a factory in Lansford, leading to layoffs. 

Ad watch: Katie Porter’s whiteboard

 Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., is well-known for using a whiteboard in hearings to make her point. Now, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund, a group aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is out with a new ad using a whiteboard to criticize Porter’s record.

“Katie Porter likes to use a whiteboard to promote her liberal policies,” a woman in the ad says. 

“I have a whiteboard question for Katie,” the woman adds, before a variety of other women use a whiteboard to ask Porter, “Why do you keep making life more expensive for us? Why did you help drive up the price of food and the price of gas, Katie?”

The ad is part of a fall ad campaign where CLF has already spent more than $190 million across the U.S. In Porter’s district, California’s 49th, the group has over $800,000 worth of airtime booked from now through Election Day, per AdImpact. She faces off against former GOP state Rep. Scott Baugh. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

President Biden told Rev. Al Sharpton he’s running for president again, NBC News’ Jonathan Allen reports. 

Politico reports on how election officials in Michigan fear their own poll workers may sow doubts about future elections

The Supreme Court will hear a potentially pivotal challenge to Alabama’s congressional map that could have big implications for the future of the Voting Rights Act.