Former President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Sen. Raphael Warnock in Atlanta on Thursday, December 1. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
Former President Barack Obama on Thursday described GOP nominee Herschel Walker as a comically unserious candidate unfit to represent Georgia on Capitol Hill.
In his second visit to Atlanta during the campaign – having previously stumped for Warnock ahead of the Nov. 8 election – Obama just a few days ahead of the run-off doubled down on his past criticism and added a few new flourishes.
For those who had forgotten his past remarks, Obama said Walker provided further evidence of his lack of credentials “every time he opens his mouth.”
The former president’s visit comes days before the end of a condensed run-off campaign of only four weeks, down from the nine the state previously mandated before the passage of a controversial voting law in 2021. Obama urged the audience not to become complacent, alternately praising the Democrat’s character and lampooning Walker’s assorted controversies and bizarre campaign trail rhetoric.
Obama’s presence, too, marked a stark difference between the two campaigns.
While Democrats were able to call on Obama, a singularly popular figure within their party, to energize voters, the most popular Republican nationally, former President Donald Trump, has stayed away for fear of alienating swing voters. (Democrats, though, have also been cautious in choosing surrogates: President Joe Biden has not appeared in Georgia.)
“Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia, like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf,” Obama joked. “This was a debate that, I must confess, I once had myself… when I was seven.”
The riff followed a puzzling sidebar from Walker during a rally a few weeks ago, when the Republican recounted having recently seen a movie that he said was called “Fright Night, Freak Night, or some type of night.”
“I don’t know if you know, but vampires are some cool people, are they not? But let me tell you something that I found out: a werewolf can kill a vampire. Did you know that? I never knew that,” Walker said, before adding: “So I don’t want to be a vampire anymore. I want to be a werewolf.”
Obama had clearly become familiar with the video, which Warnock has replayed in part in recent campaign ads.
“In case you were wondering, Mr. Walker decided he wanted to be a werewolf. Which is great. As far as I’m concerned, he can be anything he wants to be. Except for a United States senator,” Obama said, before continuing with another story about Walker’s past claim of having let Obama beat him at basketball only to admit, later, that the two had never met.
In a less bombastic portion of his speech, Obama pushed back against any suggestion that the Georgia Senate race had diminished in importance after Democrats clinched a Senate majority last month.
“An extra senator gives Democrats more breathing room on important bills. It prevents one person from holding up everything. It also puts us in a better position a couple of years from now when you’ve got another election and the Senate map is going to be tilted in the favor of Republicans. And it’ll help prevent Republicans from getting a filibuster-proof majority that could allow them to do things like passing a federal abortion ban.”