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Walker addresses abortion allegations, badge and more in NBC News interview

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.
Republican Senate Candidate Herschel Walker during a campaign stop on Oct. 11, 2022, in Carrollton, Ga.Megan Varner / AP

WASHINGTON —  If it’s Monday ... A National NYT/Siena poll shows the GOP ahead among likely voters on its generic ballot, 49%-45%. ... Independent Utah Senate candidate Evan McMullin reiterates he won’t caucus with either party should he win. ... Kari Lake refuses to say whether she’d accept loss in Arizona Governor. ... Early voting begins today in Georgia. ... And it’s Debate Day in Georgia Governor, Ohio Senate and Utah Senate.

But first: NBC News’ Kristen Welker went one-on-one with Herschel Walker, and Welker presented the Georgia Republican with a copy of the $700 check his ex-girlfriend alleges was used to reimburse her for the abortion she had. 

As well as receipt from the women’s clinic where the abortion allegedly took place. 

(NBC News is not revealing the woman’s identity or the documents — to protect the privacy of all parties.)

Kristen Welker: "Do you know what this $700 check is for?"

Herschel Walker: "I have no idea what that can be for."

Welker: "Is that your signature on the check, though?"

Walker: "It could be. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s my signature or not."

After Welker pressed Walker on the check, the Georgia Republican admitted it was his. “Yes, that’s my check,” he said. 

Welker: "Why should voters believe you in this moment, your words?"

Walker: Voters should believe me, because I’ve been very transparent about everything I’ve ever done.

Also in the interview, Walker maintained that the abortion allegation is a lie. 

“This is still a lie because, she’s the mother of my child. So you’re gonna see my check or somebody given a check so that I’m saying this is a lie.”

Walker addressed a wide range of topics — including abortion policy, former President Donald Trump and some key moments in Friday night’s debate (including when he appeared to flash a police badge and his perplexing statement about insulin). 

You can read more of the interview on the NBC News website.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 3

That’s the number of states where former President Barack Obama will be campaigning at the end of the month, per NBC News’ Mirna Alsharif and Mike Memoli. Obama’s office announced over the weekend that he’ll be heading to Georgia on Oct. 28 and Michigan and Wisconsin on Oct. 29. 

The former president is expected to campaign with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan; Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Senate hopeful Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin; and Sen. Raphael Warnock and gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Obama won Michigan and Wisconsin when he ran for president in 2008 and 2012.

“Given the high stakes of this year’s midterm elections, President Obama wants to do his part to help Democrats win next month,” Obama’s office said in a statement. “He looks forward to stumping for candidates up and down the ballot, especially in races and states that will have consequences for the administration of 2024 elections.”

Other numbers to know:

44%: The combined share of likely voters in the New York Times/Siena College poll who say the economy or inflation are the most important issues facing the country. No other issue polled in the double digits.  

$54 million: How much Democrats have spent on Spanish language ads, per a Politico analysis of AdImpact data. That’s nearly three times more than Republicans have spent. 

174: How many days Biden has visited Delaware during his term, per CNN, surpassing the number of days former President Donald Trump spent at his Florida resort or New Jersey golf club at the same point in his term.

63%: The share of registered voters in a new CBS News/YouGov tracking poll who say gas prices in their area are going up. Just 16% said the same in August. 

Midterm roundup: Closer than expected in Iowa

This weekend’s Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, long considered the gold standard in the state, had a message for those looking past the state’s Senate race. 

In it, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, leads Democratic challenger Mike Franken by just 3 points among likely voters, 46%-43%. Independent voters have swung toward Franken since July, the poll shows, with the challenger also performing well with non-religious voters, those with college degrees, urban/suburban voters and women. On the flip side, Grassley does best with evangelicals, rural voters, men and older voters. 

Even more, Grassley’s job approval is under water for the first time in the history of the poll (more than 15 years), with 44% approving of his job performance and 48% disapproving. And 60% called Grassley’s age (he’s 89) a concern, while 34% called his longevity an asset. 

Taken together, it’s all a reminder that Grassley is likely to be facing his toughest challenge yet.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Colorado Senate: Politico profiles how Republicans and their Senate nominee, Joe O’Dea, are trying to score an upset in Colorado to help them expand the map. 

Ohio Senate: Republican nominee J.D. Vance told The Washington Examiner that “I think McConnell’s going to be the majority leader” as the GOP leader’s aligned super PAC has sunk millions into boosting his bid. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial board endorsed Vance’s opponent, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. 

Pennsylvania Senate: Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is spending an additional $5 million in Pennsylvania, per spending figures provided first to NBC News. That brings the group’s investment to $42 million so far. And Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman picked up an endorsement from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Arizona Governor: The Arizona Republic looks at how while the state’s GOP nominees for Senate and governor are campaigning together, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs are going their separate ways.On Wednesday, Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin will campaign with Lake, who repeatedly dodged Sunday on whether she’d accept the result of the election if she loses. 

Florida Governor: President Biden will travel to Florida one week before Election Day for an event with Democrat Charlie Crist.  

New York Governor: Former President Trump endorsed GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin in his gubernatorial bid. 

Oregon Governor: The presence of Betsy Johnson, a Democrat-turned-nonaffiliated gubernatorial candidate, continues to cast significant uncertainty on Oregon’s gubernatorial race, keeping the door open for the state to elect its first Republican governor in 40 years. 

Wisconsin Governor: Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and GOP nominee Tim Michels debated Friday and showcased their significant policy differences

Wisconsin-03: The AP examines voters’ willingness to shrug off Republican nominee Derrick Van Orden’s presence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when rioters entered the building. Van Orden maintains that he did not take part in the riot.

Ad watch: TX-28 heats up again

Two dueling outside groups are up on the airwaves in the competitive TX-28 race in South Texas. 

BOLD PAC, a group affiliated with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is supporting Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, with an ad attacking his Republican opponent, Cassy Garcia, for her views on abortion. 

“Cassy opposes reproductive rights for women, taking away women’s choices, supports people who want to privatize Social Security, taking away your retirement, and thinks people with pre-existing conditions should fend for themselves,” a narrator in that ad says.

Another ad funded by the National Republican Congressional Committee alleges Cuellar has focused on himself over his constituents while in office.

“Congressman Cuellar uses his office to enrich himself, his family and his ‘compadres.’ What has he done for us? Nada. Our problems keep growing,” a farmer says in the NRCC ad.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

Russia hit Kyiv with a series of “kamikaze” drones on Monday in a renewed attack on the Ukrainian capital.

Former President Trump lamented on his social media platform that evangelicals are “far more appreciative” of his record on Israel than American Jews, adding that “U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel — Before it is too late!”

The January 6 committee has not figured out its course of action if Trump refuses to testify, two members of the committee said Sunday.