Republicans search for every possible excuse for why Herschel Walker went down — except their own policies
Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock © ALEX WONG, Brendan Smialowski /AFP/File

WASHINGTON — In the post-mortem of the Georgia runoff, there were few Republicans willing to blame the loss on the MAGA takeover of the Republican Party, but many danced around it with some calling out "candidate recruitment" or finding polite ways of saying that Herschel Walker wasn't a good candidate.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is on his way out of the office with nary a care about the political expediency of the chief of the Republican Party. He seemed more than happy to place the blame on Donald Trump for picking such a crap candidate.

"Candidates matter and I think we lost two, three or four more races this year than we had to," said Blunt speaking to Raw Story on Wednesday.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who had a very difficult time in his own 2022 reelection, said that there wasn't a single issue that pinpointed the loss for Walker. He stopped short of blaming Donald Trump for making early voting a no-no for Republican voters.

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"There's so much emphasis based on absentee balloting and early voting we need to be effective at that. That's what I mean. Whatever we spend, we need to spend a greater portion on the ground game and making sure that, uh, we're identifying voters who already voted and we collected our ballots like Democrats do," said Johnson.

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) agreed with Johnson that the GOP must "improve our ground game in states and communities that need year-around attention from Republicans to — so we can respond. We can — need to, uh, harvest ballots for states that allow for ballot harvesting. And I think, in some ways, we have such a revulsion to ballot harvesting that in states where it's legal we haven't done it. And we just need to be pressing to play by the rules state to state."

Johnson was asked if Walker was the victim of what Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) referred to as a "candidate quality" issue. While trying to dance around it, he made it clear that it was certainly a problem.

"It would have been best if we had the perfect human being running for all of these offices," said Johnson. But the problem with that is you're going to have Democrats lie with impunity and their lies are amplified by the media. So..."

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Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) blamed the Walker loss on how "nasty" the campaign became. Yet, when asked if she thought Walker was treated unfairly, she said "no."

"I think it was — he was attacked from a lot of different sides, uh, unfairly, but that's what happens," she said. "You know, I think he struggled in his debate. His communication skills are probably not as polished as Warnock's."

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) refused to say anything bad about Herschel Walker after his loss on Tuesday, instead making it seem as if no Republican could have won up against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA).

"They've gotten a bit more organized in early voting. We tend to stick to tradition. That's got to change in states like Arizona and Georgia" he said. Over the course of several decades, Republicans have worked hard to institute vote by mail or early voting among their supporters. that changed when Donald Trump began calling it a fraudulent way to vote. It has hurt the GOP ever since.

When asked if he was a hard sell to Georgia, Tuberville swore up and down that Walker was beloved in Georgia and that he's done so much for the state where he hasn't lived for decades. But it painted it as a double-edged sword.

"That's what concerned be a little bit. They knew him. They understood him. He's had problems. I mean, we've all had problems," Tuberville said about Walker putting a gun to his ex-wife's head and being accused of other forms of abuse and domestic violence. "He's been able to overcome those. He's been a good spokesman for the state. A good asset for the state. He's been in business."

But Warnock was simply insurmountable, he told Raw Story.

"The guy who beat him was a preacher," Tuberville explained. "He's a good guy. Friend of mine. Worked with him for two years, we came in at the same time. Warnock had his claws in pretty good. You know, he's been here."

He went on to say that it was difficult to unseat someone, even if Warnock was only in office for two years. Tuberville then blamed the money problem, saying that Republicans have far less money than the Democrats did. That ended up being a big debate between Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) who runs the Republican Senate Campaign Committee and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the GOP leader of the Senate. The warring sides fought for fundraising from the same group of donors, with McConnell making it clear that Scott wasn't responsible in managing the financials of the committee. Scott blamed McConnell for refusing to support Senate candidates enough with his bank of cash. McConnell implied that Scott and Trump were to blame for undesirable candidates like Walker, Blake Masters, Dr. Oz, J.D. Vance and others.

Lummis argued, however, that candidate quality wasn't an issue, saying that Dr. Mehmet Oz was a "very good candidate and frankly the Democrats did not. But the Democrats saw their candidate win. And so, it goes way beyond."

She also told Raw Story that she didn't agree with Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) assessment that Republicans have no policies and that's why they lost. Lummis responded to the claim by naming off all of the problems the country is facing, but never addressed the solutions, which is a piece of what Democrats have argued is the GOP's problem.

"The fact that the public didn't trust us to do a better job is something that we really need to be introspective and do some messaging about, and I do think it has a lot to do with our ground game. I think we need a stronger ground game," she told Raw Story. "I don't think it's about a messaging thing. I'm one of those people who prefers that an election be about ideas. We should probably put forth ideas that are more optimistic about the future and perhaps we missed the mark there. But I really think it comes down to our ground game."

Republican Whip, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) blamed the money problem too, saying that because the Democrats have more cash, they were able to define Walker better. In fact, Warnock did very little attacking of Walker and Donald Trump, instead focusing on the issues and trying to ignore the daily trash-throwing of politics. Toward the end, Warnock's major closing ad may have been an attack on Walker, but even that was Walker in his own words.

Cornyn also refused to blame Trump, saying he deserves no credit or blame.

Outgoing senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) was happy to blame Trump too, saying that the loss in Georgia "is just another data point in an overwhelming body of data that says Trump is very bad for the Republican Party. Normal Republicans are doing extremely well.


With additional reporting by Matt Laslo