A new advertisement meant to dissuade Georgia voters from electing Herschel Walker as the Peach State’s next senator features the former football star’s ex-wife describing how the Republican Senate nominee once put a pistol to her head and threatened to pull the trigger.
The 30-second spot, produced by the Republican Accountability Political Action Committee, opens with a voiceover asking if viewers think they know the ex-Georgia Bulldogs collegiate football standout. Mr Walker won the coveted Heisman Trophy — an award bestowed on the player deemed to be the best in college football — in 1982.
The ad then asks viewers to listen to Mr Walker’s ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, describe her ex-husband’s violent tendencies.
She said Mr Walker’s eyes would “become very evil”, adding that she “got into a few choking things with him”. But Ms Grossman said her ex-husband went further than that.
“The first time he held the gun to my head, he held a gun to my temple and he said he [was] gonna blow my brains out,” she said.
Mr Walker’s history of domestic violence and gunplay has been the subject of prior reporting on court documents by other outlets, including the Associated Press. Last year the AP reported that Ms Grossman’s sister said in a sworn affidavit that Mr Walker had “stated unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head” during a 2005 phone call.
One of the strategists behind the ad, Sarah Longwell, told The Independent the ad is just the opening salvo in a campaign that will feature testimonials from Georgia Republicans opposed to Mr Walker’s candidacy, along the lines of similar ads produced during the 2020 election by the Republican Voters Against Trump project she co-produced.
But Ms Longwell said the footage of Ms Grossman — which was obtained from the CNN archives — appeared ready-made for a political ad.
“We didn't have to do anything to it … it was just there. And we hadn't seen it before,” she said. “Obviously, those accusations have been made public, but we hadn't seen that video footage. We just let her tell her story.”
Ms Longwell said the ad is already airing on Georgia local television stations thanks to an initial $100,000 airtime purchase. She added that the group would be following up with more testimonial-style spots.
A RAPAC spokesperson also said the group had chosen Mr Walker as a target because focus group results have shown that a significant portion of Georgia Republicans remain sceptical of his candidacy. The spokesperson said the focus group results have been borne out by polling data which shows Mr Walker running consistently behind Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who is currently running for a second term.
Ms Longwell said the polling gap between Mr Kemp and Mr Walker is around ten points, and pointed to Georgia voters who voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 election after voting for Donald Trump four years earlier as one of the groups RAPAC is targeting.
“Those types of voters … aren't sold on Walker,” she said. “The goal here is to separate Herschel Walker the mythical football player, from … somebody who is not qualified for the US Senate”.
The Independent has contacted Mr Walker’s campaign for comment.