Hitting back after Barack Obama questioned his fitness for a US Senate seat, Herschel Walker said: “Put my résumé against his résumé.”
Obama, 61, was a civil rights attorney and community organiser in Chicago, an Illinois state politician, a US senator from 2005 to 2008, then 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017.
Walker, 60, won the Heisman Trophy, the top honor in college football. He had a stellar NFL career, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys, then went into business.
His entry into politics, endorsed by Donald Trump and seeking to unseat the Democrat Raphael Warnock in Georgia, has been anything but smooth. Less than a week from election day, however, the two men are locked in a close race.
Obama has come off the sidelines to boost Democrats in tight contests. Rallying for Warnock last week, he said: “Some of you may not remember, but Herschel Walker was a heck of a football player. But here’s the question: does that make him the best person to represent you in the US Senate? Does that make him equipped to weigh in on the critical decisions about our economy and our foreign policy and our future?”
On Wednesday, speaking to the Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, Walker said: “He forgot to tell people I created one of the largest minority-owned food service companies in the United States of America, so I do sign the front of a check, which he’s probably never done except when he was in the White House.
“I created businesses, I sit on a public traded board. So those are things I’ve done outside of football. Put my résumé against his résumé – I put it up any time of the day and I think I’ve done well.”
Walker founded a company selling breaded chicken. Earlier this year, the New York Times said: “Walker’s origin story about his food-services company fits a pattern of exaggerations, half-truths and outright falsehoods that dates back to at least the 1990s.”
A previous claim to have founded “the largest minority-owned chicken business in the United States” was, the paper said, not true.
The Times also said Walker appeared to have exaggerated how many employees he had, claiming “about 800” in 2020, the same year the company listed just eight on an application for Covid relief.
Walker has claimed to be a member of law enforcement, flashing a badge during a debate with Warnock. He is not. He has said he graduated from college. He did not. He has admitted having a son he did not previously acknowledge. And while he now supports anti-abortion policies, two women have said he pressured them to have abortions.
Walker denies wrongdoing. He told Kilmeade: “I keep going forward. Right now, they’re going to try to throw everything at me. They spent almost $100m so far against me. Right now, the race is virtually tied or I’m in the lead which shows that they don’t know how to spend their own money, so quit spending our money.”
On Thursday, the polling website FiveThirtyEight put Warnock up by less than half a percentage point.