Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Georgia, explained why he flashed a badge during Friday’s debate with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in an exclusive interview with NBC News' Kristen Welker.
Walker brandished the badge after Warnock took aim at his past erratic behavior and his false claims that he had worked in law enforcement, prompting a moderator to repeatedly ask Walker to put the badge away, citing debate rules barring the use of props.
Asked in the interview about that moment and whether the badge gave him arresting authority, Walker insisted it is a “legit” badge given to him by law enforcement and said he carries it with him all the time.
“I have badges all over the state of Georgia,” Walker said, noting that he also had an “honorary sheriff badge” from Chatham County, where Warnock is from.
Walker produced a badge during the interview that he said was from Johnson County, where he grew up.
“If anything happened in this county, I have the right to work with the police getting things done," he said. "People don’t know that I’ve been working with law enforcement for years.
“But they can call me whenever they want me, and I have the authority to do things for them, to work with them on a thing,” Walker continued.
Asked why he flashed a badge during the debate even though the National Sheriffs' Association said an honorary badge is “for the trophy case,” Walker said that’s “not true.”
“I had a sheriff that gave me the badge — been there for years, I’ve been there for years — came out and did a press conference with me, and said Herschel been with us for years, he’d been working with us,” Walker said.
“I will always have my men and women back the blue. That’s the reason they support me," Walker continued. "I have more sheriff that have supported Herschel Walker, more sheriffs support Herschel Walker in Georgia, than any candidate running today.”
Walker repeatedly denied having embellished his connection to law enforcement.
“I’m right because I have worked in law enforcement, and I’ve been working with law enforcement,” Walker said. “I did it before I decided to run for office. This had nothing to do with me running for office. So when people say that, they’re talking.”
The sheriff of Johnson County confirmed that he had given Walker the honorary badge and said he had no issue with Walker’s bringing it up during his political campaign.
In his interview with NBC News, Walker also continued to deny an allegation by an ex-partner, who is the mother of one of his children, that he paid for her abortion in 2009. Walker acknowledged a $700 check he gave to her but denied her claim that he knew the check was for an abortion.
“It’s a lie,” Walker, an anti-abortion Republican and former football star, said in the interview, which aired Monday on the “TODAY” show. “Prove that I did that. Just to show me things like that does nothing for me.”