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Walker, criticizing climate law, asks: ‘Don’t we have enough trees around here?’

Georgia Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker holds a campaign event in Milton, Ga., on Aug. 4. (Erik S Lesser/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker is criticizing the sweeping climate, health-care and deficit-reduction bill signed into law by President Biden, arguing that it includes wasteful spending to combat global warming and asking, “Don’t we have enough trees around here?”

The former NFL football player, who was encouraged to run by former president Donald Trump, has made head-scratching comments that have drawn ridicule. In a July 9 appearance, he spoke about climate change, suggesting that Georgia’s “good air decides to float over” to China, replacing China’s “bad air,” which goes back to Georgia, where “we got to clean that back up.”

In an appearance Sunday, according to an account by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Walker reiterated his opposition to the Inflation Reduction Act, signed by Biden last week, that invests in curbing global warming, among other things.

“They continue to try to fool you that they are helping you out. But they’re not,” Walker said. “Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?”

It’s possible Walker might have been referring to a provision in the law that allocates $1.5 billion to the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Walker, in a tweet posted Monday evening, stood by his remarks.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) rankled some fellow Republicans last week when he said his party could fall short of retaking the Senate, citing “candidate quality” as an issue. While McConnell didn’t name names, Walker, in his race to unseat Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D), is among those widely believed to be underperforming.

Walker told the Journal-Constitution over the weekend that he was unfazed by McConnell’s comments.

“I don’t ever worry about stuff like that,” Walker said. “When I got into this race, I got in this race to win it for the people. I said, ‘Guys, I’m here for the people of Georgia.’ I’m not worried about what people say.”

The Journal-Constitution reported that Walker spoke after an event Sunday with the Republican Jewish Coalition in Sandy Springs, Ga.

Warnock’s campaign did not comment on Walker’s remarks, but Dan Gottlieb, a spokesman for the Georgia Democratic Party, told The Washington Post that they show that Walker is unprepared to serve in the Senate.

“The few policies Walker can articulate, like his support for a nationwide abortion ban and opposition to legislation to reduce drug costs for seniors, are harmful to Georgians. But his inability to demonstrate even the most basic understanding of other key issues shows he isn’t ready to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate,” Gottlieb said.

In June, Walker faced a string of controversies, including that he has two sons and a daughter with different women whom he had not spoken about publicly.

The Journal-Constitution debunked previous claims by Walker that he had worked in law enforcement and had been an FBI agent. The Daily Beast reported that Walker had a 10-year-old son out of wedlock whom he hadn’t discussed publicly. The left-leaning news site reported that Walker also had a 13-year-old son with a different woman as well as an adult daughter he fathered as a college student. Walker has spoken on the campaign trail about his close relationship with another son, 22-year-old Christian.

Walker, who in the past has chided absentee Black fathers, confirmed the Daily Beast’s reporting and said he never hid his other children.

“I have four children. Three sons and a daughter. They’re not ‘undisclosed’ — they’re my kids,” Walker said in a statement sent to The Washington Post. “Saying I hide my children because I don’t discuss them with reporters to win a campaign? That’s outrageous. I can take the heat, that’s politics, but leave my kids alone.”

Mariana Alfaro contributed to this report.

The 2022 Midterm Elections

Divided government: Republicans narrowly won back control of the House, while Democrats will keep control of the Senate, creating a split Congress.

What the results mean for 2024: A Republican Party red wave seems to be a ripple after Republicans fell short in the Senate and narrowly won control in the House. Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign on Tuesday, experts helped us game out what would happen if he wins again.

Key issue: Abortion rights advocates scored major victories in the first nationwide election since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Here’s how abortion access fared on the ballot in nine states.

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