The Twitter profile of Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais had a group of syringes set into place to resemble a swastika, according to the AJC. After the piece was published, the symbol was reportedly removed from her Twitter page.
The event was called just off hours after the campaign argued that the symbol on the page was not a swastika, per the AJC. The symbol was “clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic,” Walker’s campaign said at first, rejecting the notion that the former NFL star would condone such a message.
Walker’s campaign released a stronger statement later, rebuking the image and saying the planned event had been scrapped.
“Despite the fact that the apparent intent behind the graphic was to condemn government vaccine mandates,” the campaign said, “the symbol used is very offensive and does not reflect the values of Herschel Walker or his campaign.”
Walker is currently running in the GOP primary to face Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock next year in what is expected to be one of the marquee US Senate races in the country.
“The previously scheduled event has been called off. Herschel is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community and opposes hatred and bigotry of all forms,” Walker spokeswoman Mallory Blount told Insider in a statement. “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.”
Viviano-Langlais didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Former President Donald Trump may be out of the Washington bubble, but this past weekend, he still took time to blast Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as an “Old Crow.”
On Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican brushed off the comment and turned the insult on its head.
“Actually, it’s quite an honor,” McConnell told CNN. “Old Crow is Henry Clay’s favorite bourbon.”
Clay, a fellow Kentuckian, represented the state in the House and Senate in the 1800s, and also served as US Secretary of State during his career.
McConnell’s response came as the former president attacked retiring GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama for backing Katie Boyd Britt in the 2022 Senate race to succeed him in the upper chamber. Britt, a former chief of staff for Shelby, is currently the president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama.
Trump has thrown his support behind longtime ally and conservative Rep. Mo Brooks, who continues to support the former president’s claims of a “stolen” 2020 presidential election.
“I see that the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, is pushing hard to have his ‘assistant’ fight the great Mo Brooks for his Senate seat,” Trump said in a statement. “She is not in any way qualified and is certainly not what our Country needs or not what Alabama wants. For Mitch McConnell to be wasting money on her campaign is absolutely outrageous.”
“I don’t need anyone else to fight my battles, and as Alabama’s next US Senator, I won’t be a rubber stamp for anyone,” she said in a statement. “My opponent is obviously panicked; he’s been in elected office for 40 years, but the people of Alabama are eager for a real conservative choice and someone who’s going to bring change to DC.”
McConnell’s super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race. The senator did not respond to CNN’s question about whether the group will direct money to the contest in the heavily Republican state.
Aides working for former President Donald Trump laughed off rumors that he would run for a House of Representatives seat in 2022 and lead the impeachment of President Joe Biden, according to a new book, saying it was a “real job” that required “actual work.”
The suggestion that Trump wins a seat in the House first drew widespread attention in June. During an interview with Trump, conspiracy theorist and far-right radio host Wayne Allyn Root suggested that he run for office in the 2022 midterm elections in Florida. From there, Root suggested, Trump could lead a Republican takeover of Congress, impeach Biden, initiate criminal investigations into him, and then run for president again in 2024.
“You become the Speaker of the House, lead the impeachment of Biden and start criminal investigations against Biden,” Root said. “You’ll wipe him out for this last two years.”
The Constitution does not require that the Speaker of the House of Representatives be an elected member. Trump, who continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, has expressed interest in running for president again in 2024.
Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that former NFL player Herschel Walker informed him that he planned to run in the 2022 Georgia Senate race against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
During an interview on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, Trump, who for months has encouraged Walker to jump into the race, called the University of Georgia standout and 1982 Heisman Trophy winner a “patriot.”
“He told me he’s going to, and I think he will,” Trump said. “I had dinner with him a week ago. He’s a great guy. He’s a patriot. He’s a very loyal person.”
If Walker ultimately joins the race, he would likely enter the contest as a frontrunner in the Republican primary given the enduring power of the former president’s endorsements within the GOP base.
The other Republicans currently in the race include state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and two military veterans – Latham Saddler and Kelvin King.
Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, was a first-time candidate who became one of the Democratic Party’s strongest recruits in the 2020 Senate cycle, defeating appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a high-stakes January 2021 runoff election.
A contest between Warnock and Walker would feature a rare Senate election between two prominent Black candidates in a Southern swing state where the Black electorate will play a decisive role in the outcome of the election.
With the Senate currently split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, the race is also expected to rank as one of the most competitive contests, especially with Republicans eager to defeat Warnock and possibly regain their majority in the upper chamber.
Georgia, once a deeply conservative GOP stronghold, has morphed into a purple state.
In the 2020 presidential election, now-President Joe Biden defeated Trump in the state by roughly 12,000 votes out of nearly 5 million votes cast, the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state in 28 years.
In the January 2021 Senate runoff elections, Warnock’s electoral win was augmented by the victory of Democrat Jon Ossoff, who beat incumbent GOP Sen. David Perdue in a separate runoff election for a full term.
In July 2020, JR Majewski made national headlines after transforming his 19,000-square-foot lawn into a massive Trump re-election banner. When the Air Force veteran from Ohio appeared in a television interview with Fox News, he was wearing a QAnon T-shirt.
Several months later, as Congress met to certify President Joe Biden’s election win, Majewski was among the thousands of Trump supporters who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC, later admitting to breaching police barricades and walking up to the base of the Capitol building.
Majewski is now trying to return to the Capitol, but this time as a congressman representing the 9th district of Ohio, a seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Marcy Kapur.
Since he was first spotted wearing the “Q” T-shirt, Majewski has made several more references to the conspiracy theory, posting QAnon images and hashtags on his social media channel, and live streaming videos with the well-known QAnon influencer RedPill79.
Majewski is one of many congressional candidates running in the 2022 midterm elections who have given credence to QAnon, which the FBI described as a far-right group with “anti-government, identity-based and fringe political conspiracy theories,” The Washington Post reported.
A Media Matters investigation published earlier this month revealed that 36 candidates in 17 states have either openly endorsed QAnon, made subtle references to, or distanced themselves from the conspiracy theory despite repeatedly displaying their support on social media or in video interviews.
Thirty-three of the candidates are running as Republicans while two are independents and one is still deciding whether to run as a Republican or an independent, the investigation found. The state with the most QAnon-believing candidates is Florida with nine candidates, followed by California which has six candidates, although these numbers are still subject to change.
In this cohort is also Reba Sherill, a health and wellness advocate who in 2020 unsuccessfully ran in Florida’s 21st congressional district – home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. She is running again as a Republican candidate for the US Senate in the midterms.
As a big Trump fan, Sherrill used to gather with other supporters on a bridge near Mar-A-Lago to wave in homage at the former president’s motorcade whenever he was in town, The Washington Post reported.
She is an ardent QAnon believer and has made the conspiracy theory central to her largely self-funded campaign.
The self-described “Q patriot” focuses her campaign on child trafficking, matching with QAnon’s false belief that Trump is fighting a “deep state” cabal of human traffickers in the United States, Yahoo News reported.
Sherrill has also referred to the more extreme adrenochrome theory – the belief that Democratic elites harvest the drug from children by torturing them and drinking their blood – in a now-deleted post on her website.
The Flordia native told Yahoo News that the “mainstream media tries to paint people who talk about human trafficking and child sex trafficking as being some kind of crazy lunatics.”
“This is not a conspiracy, this is reality,” she insisted. “It’s not some fictitious thing.”
Another congressional candidate who believes in the human trafficking theory is Omar Navarro, a convicted stalker running for California’s 43rd congressional district.
The California native, who last year spent six months in jail after pleading guilty to a stalking charge, told Insider in an interview that he believes in “some things” that “Q” says, including the human trafficking trope.
“I do believe that there’s human trafficking going on right now. I do believe that Hollywood has participated in some of this with pedophilia on and it’s something obviously we can’t ignore,” he said.
Navarro, who has gone viral multiple times on Twitter for his far-right and homophobic views, has previously pushed the debunked Pizzagate theory. He told Insider: “I feel like there are certain things going on. There’s something shady in that pizza shop.”
The Californian also defended using the popular QAnon slogan WWG1WGA (“Where we go one, we go all”) in a tweet posted on October 3, 2020, saying he ended up deleting it because he didn’t want Twitter to ban him.
“I always have to worry about my free speech and what I say on Twitter,” he said.
The fear of being removed from social media platforms is not holding back QAnon fan Jo Rae Perkins, who is running for the Senate in Oregon, where she unsuccessfully ran in 2020.
Perkins, who discovered QAnon messaging boards in 2017 and describes them as a “source of information.” She has also posted a video of herself taking a “digital soldier oath” in front of a WWG1WGA sticker, CNN reported.
Around eight candidates have consistently and blatantly pushed elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory in the past but have, in some way, tried to distance themselves from it. These include Josh Barnett, Bobby Piton, Jon McGreevey, and Billy Prempeh.
Greene pushed these ideas so fervently that she became a “correspondent” for a conspiracy news website between 2017 and 2018, NBC News reported. In one of her posts for the now-defunct “American Truth Seekers” website, the controversial lawmaker called Q a “patriot.”
She also told her social media followers that Q “is worth listening to” in a now-deleted video from 2017.
But while Greene once proudly broadcast some of QAnon’s wildest ideas, she has since tried to publicly distance herself from the conspiracy theory.
In August 2020, Greene said that QAnon no longer represented her current position. “No, I don’t [consider myself a QAnon candidate]. I think that’s been the media’s characterization of me,” she told Fox News.
But after winning the Republican nomination for Colorado’s 3rd District, she told Fox 31 News that she’s “not a follower.” She did not, however, disavow a central tenet of the QAnon ideology – that the “deep state” is actively working against Trump. “I believe there are people working in the administration that at least appear to be actively undermining President Trump,” she said in 2020.
Publicly disavowing QAnon whilst continuing to advocate for some of the conspiracy theory’s nonsensical beliefs is an oft-used “camouflage” tactic by the far-right, Media Matters president Angela Carusone told Insider.
Some candidates might be doing so to appear more palatable to a wider audience and to avoid “political blowback” while maintaining their base of QAnon donors, he said.
“When candidates walk back their QAnon commitment, I think you have to view that with real skepticism,” Carusone advised. “They do things in a careful and concerted way.”
QAnon is a political tool to raise money and attract voters
While some candidates publicly disavow QAnon in a bid to appeal to a more mainstream audience, others subtly signal their support for it as a means to bring conspiracy theorists into the fold, to donate and vote for them.
“Many don’t even mention Q directly,” Jack Bratich, an associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, told Insider. “It’s become a kind of background story for adherents, who can signal to each other that they are part of this shadowy movement.”
Insider identified around a dozen candidates who have expressed their support for QAnon in less than explicit ways, via retweets, subtle nods to slogans, and the use of specific hashtags. These include Steve Von Loor, Tricia Flanagan, Sam Peters, and Anthony Sabatini.
Several candidates included the hashtag #WWG1WGA in their tweets. Others included the letter “Q” in response to posts from QAnon-affiliated accounts.
“I’m certain that there are some of these individuals that don’t actually care or believe in it, but they see it as an opportunity,” Carusone said.
“I think there are some candidates who are certainly just being political,” Carusone went on. “They’re crassly seeing a potential political donor base or power base.”
QAnon is ‘on the rise’ in congressional politics
It’s clear that the influence of QAnon in congressional politics is “on the rise,” Carusone said. “And they’re aggressively moving to take over parts of the Republican party, local committees, school boards, local races too.”
Bratich said it shows how deeply QAnon has “settled” into the Republican party. “As a movement, it has expanded to try and take over the party,” he said. “It’s not central to the GOP but it’s no longer a marginal component either.”
QAnon is now a major force in American politics, Carusone agreed. “And, basically, I think we’re kind of screwed.”
Here is a full list of all 36 QAnon supporters who are running for Congress in 2022.
Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida, a former Orlando police chief who rose to national prominence as an impeachment manager in former President Donald Trump’s first Senate trial, on Wednesday officially launched her campaign to defeat GOP Sen. Marco Rubio in 2022, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“I’m running for US Senate because I will never tire of standing up for what is right,” she said on Twitter. “Never tire of serving Florida. Never tire of doing good.”
The entry of Demings into the race provides Democrats with a top-tier candidate in the nation’s premier swing state, albeit one that has had a slight Republican tinge over the past few election cycles.
For months, Demings, who was on President Joe Biden’s shortlist for vice presidential running mates last year, mulled over running for Senate or jumping into the 2022 governor’s race against GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“I have received calls and texts and messages from people all over the state asking me to run because they feel that they are not represented and their voices are not heard,” she said. “I want to go to the position where I can do the most good. My home state of Florida deserves that.”
A national Democrat with knowledge of the party’s strategy to compete for the Senate seat praised Demings’ candidacy last month, telling Politico: “Val is an impressive and formidable candidate whose potential entrance would make the race against Rubio highly competitive.”
In what will likely be a core campaign message to working-class voters, a Demings advisor compared the congresswoman’s biography to that of Rubio.
“She’s the daughter of a maid and a janitor who became the first Black woman police chief in Orlando,” the advisor told Politico. “He’s the son of a maid and a bartender who’s a career politician.”
The advisor also said that Demings was dismayed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his current “obstruction” under Biden.
“If I had to point to one thing, I think it’s the Covid bill and the way Republicans voted against it for no good reason,” the advisor told Politico. “That really helped push her over the edge.”
Democrats had been angling to find a candidate to take on Rubio, a two-term senator who was first elected in 2010 and ran for president in 2016. The party is anxious to defeat the ambitious senator, but after his easier-than-expected re-election in 2016, along with Democratic statewide losses in 2018 and Trump’s win over Biden in the state last year, Republicans have been politically ascendant in Florida.
However, with Demings as a candidate, she can compellingly speak on issues of policing and criminal justice reform, and could also blunt GOP attacks regarding the “defund the police” movement, which some in the party blame for electoral losses last year.
Demings was first elected to the House in 2016, where she represents the 10th Congressional district, anchored in Orlando. She sits on the powerful Judiciary, Intelligence, and Homeland Security committees.
Demings was a law enforcement officer with the Orlando Police Department for 27 years, serving as its chief of police from 2007 to 2011. Her husband, Jerry Demings, also served as chief of Orlando’s police, and is currently the Mayor of Orange County, one of the fastest-growing localities in Central Florida.
After Trump was impeached by the House in 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over the Ukraine scandal, Demings was a highly-visible impeachment manager in his Senate trial, where she argued for his conviction.
The Senate voted to acquit Trump, but Demings told NPR that the decision to make a case against Trump was “worth it.”
“The House managers were the defenders of the Constitution,” she said. “And just like when I was a law enforcement officer, when I saw someone breaking the law, I did not stop and think about, well, my goodness, what will the judge do? What will the jury do down the road? I did my job to stop that threat and then go to court and plead my case.”
When former President Donald Trump walked on stage at the North Carolina GOP Convention on Saturday, he was facing an adoring crowd of loyal Republicans who are eager to regain control of Congress in 2022.
After Lara Trump declined to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Richard Burr next year, the former president quickly pivoted to backing conservative Rep. Ted Budd, a move that reflected his role in shaping the future of the party.
However, Trump pulled focus back to the 2020 presidential election, bringing up debunked allegations of voting fraud and continuing to question whether some blue states truly voted for Democratic President Joe Biden.
For a group of Trump aides and advisors, efforts to combat the former president’s fixation on the 2020 election have proven to be a difficult proposition, according to a CNN report.
Trump has faced growing calls to aid Republicans as they seek to regain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections, according to CNN.
However, Trump has mostly brushed off the concerns, listening to individuals on television and in his larger circle who have told him to continue relitigating the 2020 election, per the CNN report.
The former president’s address on Saturday was his first major public appearance since his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Florida, where he reaffirmed his commitment to the Republican Party amid a Wall Street Journal report that he sought to create his own political party.
According to CNN, sources have said that Trump is “bored” by the issues that have been promoted by his advisors, which include threats to the country’s energy infrastructure and inflationary concerns.
One ex-Trump official told CNN that the former president is so “obsessed” with his failed reelection bid that he runs the risk of irrelevancy.
“It’s like a slow leak of a balloon that is now laying on the floor,” the ex-Trump official told the network.
Last week, Insider’s Jake Lahut reported on a tweet sent by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, where she stated that Trump was informing people that he expected to be reinstated as president in August.
Trump has also continued to push for audits of the presidential results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – all states that he narrowly lost in 2020 – similar to an ongoing GOP-initiated audit that is being conducted in Arizona.
Allies want to see Trump promote an agenda rooted in the future
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch ally of Trump, reportedly sought to orient the former president’s messaging to deliver a speech that was “two-thirds forward-looking, one-third grievance,” according to a source that spoke with CNN.
David Kochel, a GOP strategist for several presidential campaigns, told CNN that Trump will benefit from such a message, but also emphasized that the former president knows what his supporters want to hear.
“Any good consultant will tell him to look ahead, not back and that would be good advice,” he said. “But one of Trump’s superpowers is knowing exactly what his audience wants. They want the hits, and the #1 hit on the charts right now is ‘Stop the Steal.’ There’s no way he can give a speech without playing that tune.”
According to CNN, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Fox News host Sean Hannity have also sought to drive Trump’s message in a new direction, fearing that the former president is detaching himself from some voters.
“The conspiracy theories and election fraud rhetoric are helpful for keeping a certain audience engaged but they do virtually nothing to move other voters – especially those who care about pocketbook issues – into our column,” said an individual close to Trump.
The individual added: “At some point, the election integrity stuff just becomes dull. We’re six months out and I think we’re starting to see that happen. He can keep running through the greatest hits but he needs to weave in some new material too.”
After Lara Trump left the podium, the former president immediately pivoted to the Senate race, calling Budd “your next senator.”
“This is a complete, and total endorsement,” he said.
In selecting Budd, who has served in the House since 2017, Trump shunned the candidacies of former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker, conservative politicians who were angling for his coveted endorsement.
Next year, Republicans hope to build on their gains in North Carolina, as they’ve been successful in state legislative races and with Trump’s statewide wins in 2016 and 2020.
But Democrats control the Governor’s Mansion and are eager to gain a true foothold in this politically-tricky Southern state and expand their razor-thin Senate majority.
GOP Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Saturday elicited boos and jeers at the state party’s annual convention, reflecting the lingering resentment that many Republicans feel toward his certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral win over former President Donald Trump in the state last year.
As Kemp aimed for unity, many of his supporters tried to cheer for the governor, who is up for reelection next year and faces a spirited GOP challenge from former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a prominent Black surrogate for Trump.
For months, Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were excoriated by Trump for not caving to his pressure campaign to overturn the November election results.
The Republican divide become even more pronounced after Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated then-GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the January runoff elections, respectively, which handed control of the US Senate to Democrats.
The governor, eager to focus on his own campaign and to dish out catnip to conservatives, laced into Democrats and what he called the “fake news media.”
“We must be strong and courageous,” Kemp told the raucous crowd. “They’ve got Hollywood. They’ve got billionaires in New York and California… That is why we have to be united as well and move forward together.”
If Giuliani prevails over Zeldin in the GOP primary – where a Trump endorsement could prove highly consequential given the former president’s standing among Upstate and Long Island Republicans, which has dropped since the January 6 insurrection – he would face steep odds against Cuomo or any other Democrat.