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The holes in Herschel Walker’s explanations

Herschel Walker appears during a rally in Norcross, Ga., on Sept. 9. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

After a couple of not terribly enlightening interviews on Fox News, Herschel Walker did a little more explaining Thursday morning in an interview with Hugh Hewitt.

But that interview reinforced several key holes in his accounting of the allegation that he had paid for an abortion 13 years ago — an allegation, published by the Daily Beast, which Walker denies and which The Washington Post has not independently confirmed.

The first is Walker’s continued claim that he doesn’t know the identity of the person making the allegation.

In the days after the initial Daily Beast report, Walker said this in two Fox interviews. Then the Daily Beast reported late Wednesday that the woman is, in fact, one of the mothers of his children. But Walker still says he doesn’t know who she is. The Post has not confirmed the Daily Beast report.

Hewitt asked, “So just to put a bow on it, do you have any idea who this alleged former lover of yours is who says you paid for an abortion and fathered a child? Any idea whatsoever?”

“I have no idea at all,” Walker responded.

But that wouldn’t seem to be terribly difficult for Walker to figure out. This summer, we learned about three children Walker had fathered with different women whom he had not discussed publicly — in addition to his adult son, Christian. Walker confirmed they were his kids but denied he had hidden their paternity. (In a statement sent to The Post, Walker said: “I have four children. Three sons and a daughter. They’re not ‘undisclosed’ — they’re my kids.”) He supplied a background form he had submitted in 2018 when he was appointed to a position by then-President Trump. The form included the names and ages of four children.

The Daily Beast, which also broke the news on that story, reported that by this summer one of the three children was an adult, while the others were 13 years old and 10 years old.

Why that’s significant: The latest Daily Beast report states that Walker had the child with the woman years after the alleged 2009 abortion. That would seem to rule out it being the mother of any of his three oldest children. And that also makes it difficult to see how Walker doesn’t have some idea of the identity of the woman who spoke to the Daily Beast.

(Walker, in the Hewitt interview, initially seemed to deny the report he’d fathered a child with the woman, but later clarified he was only denying the abortion — not later having a child with her.)

Second, Walker has also sought to cast doubt on the Daily Beast’s latest report by calling into question its previous reporting. He said late Wednesday that “there’s no truth to this or any other Daily Beast report.” But even while disputing the characterization that he had hidden the paternity of those children, he had confirmed the truth of its reporting on their existence.

What’s more, a third comment Walker made Thursday morning would seem to confirm he wasn’t exactly forthcoming about those children.

While discussing Christian Walker’s harsh comments against him this week, Walker traced the tension between them back to the reports about his other children.

“I haven’t sat down with Christian since he started believing — I think when he started believing that I had other kids, never told him about it,” Walker said, according to the transcript. “And I think he’s extremely hurt from that, and that was totally, totally not true.”

To unpack that: Walker says his own son believed that his father had “never told him about” the other children. But Walker is suggesting that his son was mistaken in this belief? To the extent that Christian Walker was indeed surprised by such news, that would seem to suggest Walker wasn’t terribly forthcoming, even privately.

The last revealing portion of Thursday’s interview came toward the end. Walker had continued to deny allegedly paying for an abortion, but he also downplayed what it would mean.

“Had that happened, I would have said it, because it’s nothing to be ashamed of there,” He said. “You know, people have done that, but I know nothing about it. And if I knew about it, I would be honest and talk about it.”

That is very difficult to square with Walker’s position on abortion rights. While some Republicans have walked back their hard-line positions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Walker has stood by his. He has said he opposes abortion rights without any exceptions — including, presumably, for the life of the mother. He even said he would support Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) 15-week federal abortion ban, which other Republicans have distanced themselves from.

“There’s no exception in my mind,” he said in May. “Like I say, I believe in life. I believe in life.”

At an event in June, Walker also repeatedly likened abortion to killing a child, saying, “But do y’all know most African American babies are killed during abortion?”

Now Walker is apparently saying that is “nothing to be ashamed of,” seemingly because other “people have done” it.

The incongruity echoes what could be considered Walker’s chief talking point in recent days. On the one hand, he denies the abortion; on the other, he keeps redirecting the conversation to his belief in “redemption.” This is the subject of an ad Walker released this week, which accuses his opponent, Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), of not believing in redemption despite his being a preacher.

Walker can argue his reference isn’t to the alleged abortion but rather to other ugly disclosures about his personal life. (He and his campaign have often spoken in such terms — overcoming mental health struggles, starting a new life — when discussing those incidents.) But he’s inviting people who might doubt his denials to also believe that, even if he did it, it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

What’s clear is that a candidate who has often struggled to enunciate a coherent message is facing his biggest challenge yet.

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