On Saturday, a 22-year-old man with a history of domestic violence killed five people and injured 22 others with an AR-15 at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Some people were at the venue, Club Q, to mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a commemoration of people killed in anti-trans violence. One of the victims, bartender Daniel Aston, was transgender.
Some gun-loving Republicans offered their typical thoughts and prayers after the 34th mass shooting in the U.S. this year; others just carried on with the kind of homophobic rhetoric that fuels hate crimes like this. Herschel Walker, who’s currently campaigning for a December 6 runoff election in Georgia against incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), went ahead with his wildly bigoted stump speech on Sunday in Carrollton, without acknowledging the shooting at all.
Here’s what Walker told voters yesterday, according to audio obtained by Jezebel:
“Do y’all know what the definition of an enemy is? A enemy is somebody that don’t like you. But they been telling you they don’t know the definition of a woman either. So think about that either. They don’t know the definition of a woman. But I’m going to tell you the definition of a woman. Because it written in my great book. It said ‘a man and a woman.’ And there’s a difference between the two of them. So that’s the reason men shouldn’t be in women’s sport—here’s a difference.
But then, yet, they trying to tell you a man could get pregnant. Get that out of your head. No, he can’t. No, he can’t. All they’re trying to do is take you down in that elevator, take you down in that elevator and lie to you. But I’m going to tell you right now, I’m not going to lie to you. I’m going to tell you, we’re in a mess. We’re in a mess because we put weak leaders in Washington. Weak leaders in Washington that not representing us.”
The candidate also railed against honoring people’s correct pronouns in the military, a frequent line of his:
“I’m going to tell you this, if we don’t support our military, we will have no strength. And I can guarantee we’ll have no peace. Because that what is happening right now. They have talked about Senator Warnock not talked about bringing pronouns into our military. Pronouns. What the heck is a pronoun? I can tell you right now, grenades don’t know nothing about no pronouns. Bullets don’t know what color your skin is. But yet they talking about pronouns. I’m still doing pushups and sit ups. That’s what we need to have them doing. Pushups and sit ups, not pronouns.”
Walker appeared with North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R), who drew immense criticism last year for calling LGBTQ+ people “filth,” then, weeks later, said straight people were “superior” to gay people.
Then, on Monday morning, Politico reporter Natalie Allison shared a new ad from the campaign featuring Walker alongside Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer who competed against trans swimmer Lia Thomas and fought the NCAA’s trans-inclusive policies. Gaines doesn’t name Thomas in the ad, but says, “My senior year, I was forced to compete against a biological male.”
Walker, a former football player, responds, “That’s unfair and wrong,” and later adds, “Warnock is afraid to stand up for female athletes.”
Walker has previously campaigned with Gaines—it was at a September rally with her that Walker suggested trans kids may not go to heaven, because “Jesus may not recognize [them].”
It’s not surprising to see this behavior from Walker—especially since the shooting was in Colorado, not Georgia—but Republicans who oppose any kind of restrictions on guns fanning the flames of homophobia and transphobia the day after a mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ club is especially disgusting.
Given this nonsense, I’m reminded of a quote from Michigan GOP’s chief of staff, Paul Cordes, about why Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon lost so badly to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). He wrote in a memo: “There were more ads on transgender sports than inflation, gas prices and bread and butter issues that could have swayed independent voters. We did not have a turnout problem—middle-of-the-road voters simply didn’t like what Tudor was selling.”
Here’s hoping Georgia voters aren’t buying what Herschel is so aggressively selling.
Correction 11/21/22: This post originally identified Mark Robinson as the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, not North Carolina.