By Dan Merica, CNN
Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker defended pulling out a sheriff’s badge during Friday’s closely watched debate in Georgia, telling NBC in an interview that aired on Sunday it was “a legit,” but honorary badge from his hometown sheriff’s department.
Walker had pulled out the badge during a discussion over support for police — in a move that was admonished by the debate moderators and led to widespread mockery from Democrats.
“This is from my hometown. This is from Johnson County from the sheriff from Johnson County, which is a legit badge,” Walker told NBC’s Kristen Welker in a clip from the interview.
A CNN fact check found Walker has never had a job in law enforcement. He has publicized a card showing that he was at some point after 2004 named an “honorary agent” and “special deputy sheriff” in Cobb County, Georgia — titles that do not confer arrest authority.
The contest between Walker and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is one of the most important Senate races in the country, representing a key state Democrats must hold to have any chance to keep control of the Senate next year. The race has recently been rocked by allegations that Walker paid for a woman’s abortion and encouraged her to have another one — allegations the Republican has repeatedly denied and that CNN has not independently confirmed.
A survey released earlier this month, which was conducted after the allegations emerged, found Warnock with 52% support among likely voters to 45% for Walker, about the same as in a mid-September poll.
During Friday’s debate, Walker had accused Warnock of calling officers “names” and caused “morale” to plummet, but the Democrat cited a false claim from Walker that he had previously served in law enforcement.
“One thing that I haven’t done is I haven’t pretended to be a police officer and I’ve never, ever threatened a shootout with police,” Warnock said, alluding to a more than two-decade-old police report in which the Republican discussed exchanging gunfire with police.
“Everyone can make fun,” Walker said in the NBC interview, arguing that the badge means he has “the right to work with the police getting things done.”
Walker, however, later admitted it was an “honorary badge” and pushed back against the idea, which NBC’s Welker read from a National Sheriffs’ Association statement, that such badges should be left in a “trophy case.”
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