Ex-NFL star Herschel Walker cancels fundraiser for U.S. Senate campaign amid vaccine-needle swastika imagery

The U.S. Senate campaign of former NFL running back Herschel Walker took a hit Wednesday when the Republican was forced to cancel an upcoming fundraiser. The Washington Post reports the decision was made after the fundraiser host was seen “featuring an image that used a swastika made out of syringes on her Twitter profile.”

Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais, a Republican donor, was set to host a fundraiser for Walker this weekend in Parker, Tex., according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which first noted Wednesday morning that her Twitter profile picture resembled the symbol. That specific rendering of the vaccine-needle swastika has been co-opted by activists nationwide who oppose coronavirus vaccine mandates and compare them to Nazi treatment of the Jews.

Walker’s campaign tried to distance itself from the donor.

“Herschel unequivocally opposes anti-semitism and bigotry of all kinds. ... 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.”

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Walker decided in August to seek the Senate seat in Georgia held by the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Among those convincing Walker to run was former President Donald Trump. Walker began his professional football career with Trump’s New Jersey Generals in the now-defunct USFL.

“He was a great football player and will be an even better U.S. Senator — if that is even possible. He has my complete and total endorsement! Walker is a friend, a patriot, and an outstanding American who is going to be a GREAT United States Senator. He embodies ‘America First’ and the winning spirit of Georgia.”

Walker has embraced Trump’s contention that the 2020 election was rigged.

Play by the rules ... the American people demand ONLY LEGAL BALLOTS be counted. Anyone manipulating this election should be prosecuted. America’s Democracy is better than this ... Republican or Democrat. Freedom and the right to vote legally is what sets America apart and made and makes us the greatest Country in the World. Anyone undermining our election should be prosecuted. We must fight for integrity.

After the USFL folded, Walker played 12 seasons in the NFL, including three with the Philadelphia Eagles (1992-1994) and one with the New York Giants (1995). His trade from the Cowboys to the Minnesota Vikings in 1989 laid the groundwork for Dallas’ three Super Bowl victories in the 1990s.

(NJ Advance Media’s Jonathan D. Salant contributed to this report.)

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Mike Rosenstein may be reached at [email protected].