U.S. senate candidate Herschel Walker canceled a fundraiser on Wednesday after its host was exposed for using a swastika composed of hypodermic needles in her Twitter profile.
The former NFL and Georgia running back is running in Georgia as a Republican for Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D-Ga.) senate seat in the 2022 midterms. He is endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Walker was scheduled to attend a campaign fundraiser in Texas this weekend hosted by conservative filmmaker Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais. Early Wednesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Patricia Murphy tweeted a screenshot of Viviano-Langlais’ Twitter profile with an image of a swastika composed of hypodermic needles.
Per the Journal-Constitution, a Walker spokeswoman initially downplayed the Nazi imagery in Viviano-Langlais’s profile while declining to condemn it.
“This is clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic,” the spokeswoman said. “Herschel unequivocally opposes anti-semitism and bigotry of all kinds.”
According to the Journal-Constitution, the imagery is used by some opponents of COVID-19 vaccines in Texas. The image was replaced on Viviano-Langlais’s Twitter profile with a photo of a Texas flag reading “God Bless Texas” shortly after the Journal-Constitution reported on it.
By Wednesday afternoon, Walker canceled the fundraiser with an updated statement from his campaign.
“The previously scheduled event has been called off,” spokesperson Mallory Blount said, per The Hill. “Herschel is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community and opposes hatred and bigotry of all forms. 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.”
A Twitter invitation to the fundraiser that cost $500 for admission and $5,800 for VIP status and a photo with Walker has been deleted.
Georgia Democratic Party spokesperson Dan Gottlieb condemned Walker’s association with Viviano-Langlais and his campaign’s initial response. Walker’s campaign announced earlier this week that his has raised $3.7 million in its effort to defeat Warnock, who flipped one of two formerly Republican Georgia senate seats to Democratic alongside Jon Ossoff in 2020.
“Herschel Walker defended a swastika, and canceling a fundraiser does not change the fact that he failed to condemn a hateful, anti-Semitic symbol,” Gottlieb said, per The Hill.