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Reactions to Walker allegations underscore important truth about today's GOP

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.
Image: Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker speaks with the press following a rally in Norcross, Ga., on Sept. 9, 2022.Demetrius Freeman / The Washington Post via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Wednesday .... President Biden heads to Fort Myers, Fla., to inspect the damage from Hurricane Ian. ... Donald Trump asks the Supreme Court to intervene in Mar-a-Lago case. ... A new Mason-Dixon poll shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead by double digits among likely voters, per NBC’s Marc Caputo. ... Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., raises $2.2 million in the last quarter, NBC’s Sahil Kapur reports. ... Republican Jen Kiggans raises more than $1 million in Virginia-02. ... Mandela Barnes hauls in more than $20 million in Wisconsin Senate, per CNN… And the Cook Political Report moves Pennsylvania Senate back to Toss Up.

But first:  Winning is the only thing.

That’s the unmistakable message that Republicans and anti-abortion groups sent on Tuesday, when they closed ranksbehind GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker after The Daily Beast reported that Walker urged an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion -- and reimbursed her for the procedure.  

Some of these Republicans echoed Walker’s denial; others implied the denial didn’t even matter. 

“We are full speed ahead in Georgia. This election is about the future of the country — Herschel Walker will make things better, Raphael Warnock is making it worse,” said Steven Law, the president of the Mitch McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund, a GOP Super PAC. 

“Anything else is a distraction,” he added. 


“We’ve seen this movie before,” the prominent social conservative Ralph Reed told the New York Times, saying that he’s “100 percent” sure evangelical Christians will stand behind Walker. 

Yesterday morning, we observed that — after Donald Trump and “Access Hollywood” — it was likely that the abortion allegation wouldn’t end Walker’s campaign, like it would have done a decade ago. 

But that’s very different from saying the allegation doesn’t matter, especially when almost every vote matters in our polarized politics. After all, we’ve seen damaging revelations (including those even more damaging than the current abortion allegation against Walker) affecting electoral outcomes. 

In 2017, we saw Republican Roy Moore lose a general election — in Alabama. 

This year, we saw Madison Cawthorn and Eric Greitens lose GOP primaries. 

And even in 2016, “Access Hollywood” did plenty of damage to Donald Trump; it’s just that that campaign ended on James Comey’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, not on Trump’s past. 

Scandals, damaging revelations and past behavior have mattered. 

Tweet of the day

Update: Trump’s legal team asked the court to allow the special master to review classified documents that federal agents seized.

They did not ask the justices to prevent the Justice Department from using the documents as part of a criminal investigation.

Data Download: The number of the day is … 45%

That’s by how much ad spending has increased in Arizona’s race for governor over a recent two-week period, as the matchup remains one of the pivotal contests on the gubernatorial battleground. Democrats have had the ad-spending edge since the Aug. 2 primary, according to AdImpact, but both parties continue to push their chips toward the center of the table.  

Arizona is one of the gubernatorial races that has seen the biggest increase in recent ad spending, per a new Political Unit analysis tracking the influx of spending in the battlefield. Races in Arizona, Texas, Connecticut, New Mexico and Michigan saw the biggest increases. 

Read more on the Meet the Press Blog.

Other numbers to know:

$625 million: The size of another military aid package the U.S. is sending to Ukraine.

$1 billion: How much has been spent on ads in Senate general election contests, per AdImpact. 

$54.20: The cost per share of Twitter that Elon Musk originally agreed to purchase the company at. After threatening to sink the deal, Musk now says he will follow through with it

70%: How many of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs in 2024 are currently represented by Democrats, per a new Politico story on the rough map facing the party next cycle.

10: How many Arizona Republicans who have denied or cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election that the Arizona Republic profiled Wednesday

62: How many home runs New York Yankee Aaron Judge has hit this season, breaking the American League record Tuesday and prompting a congratulatory tweet from Biden.

Midterm roundup: Unpacking different Senate scenarios 

The battle over the Senate is being fought on a knife’s edge, with Republicans needing a net gain of just one seat to take control of the chamber. So what would a good night for Republicans (or Democrats) actually look like? And what about if democracy or the economy end up being the top issues for voters? 

We have you covered with a new interactive gaming out different scenarios on election night, where you can find your own path to the majority. And you can check out some potential outcomes from Chuck Todd and Steve Kornacki. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail: 

Arizona Senate/Arizona Governor: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is joining Senate hopeful Blake Masters and gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake at a Wednesday rally. And Women Speak Out PAC, a super PAC tied to Susan B. Anthony List, announced a $1 million TV ad campaign painting Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly as extreme on abortion.  

Colorado Senate: Former President George W. Bush is participating in a fundraiser later this month for Republican Joe O’Dea. Both O’Dea and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet also announced their third quarter fundraising totals, with O’Dea raising $3 million (including a $1 million personal loan) and Bennet raising $5 million

New Hampshire Senate: new poll from the St. Anselm College Survey Center of registered voters found Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan leading GOP nominee Don Bolduc, 49% to 43%. 

Nevada Senate: Club for Growth Action is planning a $2 million Spanish-language ad blitz against Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, NBC News’ Natasha Korecki reports. 

Pennsylvania Senate: The Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund launched a new ad campaign targeting Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman over a 2013 incident where he pulled a firearm on a Black man who was jogging, while the Philadelphia Inquirer reports Everytown for Gun Safety is running new ads attacking Republican Senate nominee Mehmet Oz (and GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano). 

Utah Senate: Independent Evan McMullin is suing Club for Growth Action and three Utah TV stations over an ad that McMullin’s campaign says mischaracterizes his previous comments about the GOP base, per the Salt Lake Tribune.

Wisconsin Senate: GOP Sen. Ron Johnson told NBC’s Natasha Korecki that he did exchange texts with one of former President Donald Trump’s attorneys on Jan. 6, 2021, but said he did not know what the lawyer was asking his staff to deliver to former Vice President Mike Pence. 

Georgia Governor: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Republican Gov. Brian Kemp raised almost $29 million over the last three-month fundraising period (Democrat Stacey Abrams’ campaign hasn’t yet released its fundraising figures). 

Virginia-02: Republican Jen Kiggans’ campaign says it raised more than $1 million in the third quarter. 

Virginia-07: NBC News’ Sahil Kapur reports that Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s campaign will report it raised $2.2 million in the third quarter. She’s out with a new ad featuring a rape victim talking about abortion access, while Republican Yesli Vega is running a new ad on education

Ad watch: 'Live free or die'

new ad in New Hampshire, funded by the Democratic House Majority PAC, is using the state’s motto, “Live free or die,” against Republican nominee Karoline Leavitt.

“In New Hampshire, we live by a code: ‘Live free or die.’ But for Karoline Leavitt, living free isn’t for everyone,” a narrator in the ad says.

She continues, “Leavitt would hand over our freedom to make health care decisions to politicians, even saying that New Hampshire’s new abortion restrictions are ‘a step in the right direction.’”

Leavitt says she backed the decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, calls herself a “proudly pro-life,” and said during a September debate she “personally” wants to see New Hampshire’s abortion restrictions “taken a step farther.” She’s also said she believes the issue is for the states to decide.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

NBC News’ Supreme Court reporter Lawrence Hurley takes a look at Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s first days on the bench

The White House is considering new action on immigration after this year’s midterm elections.