Senate candidate Herschel Walker cancels fundraiser with supporter who had swastika in her Twitter profile
ATLANTA — Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker canceled a fundraiser with a conservative film producer who until Wednesday used a rendering of a swastika as her Twitter profile picture.
The Republican’s campaign said in a statement that the event at the Texas home of Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais has been “called off” and that he opposes hatred and bigotry. The event was canceled hours after the campaign initially contended the symbol wasn’t a swastika.
The candidate had come under heated criticism after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported details of the fundraiser hosted by Viviano-Langlais, who long featured a set of syringes arranged in a swastika as her Twitter profile picture. The Nazi symbol, which she removed shortly after the story published, is being used by some opponents of vaccine requirements in Texas.
Walker’s campaign spokeswoman early Wednesday said the symbol is “clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic.” In another statement hours later, his campaign disavowed her use of the symbol and said Walker opposed antisemitism and bigotry “in all forms.”
“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.”
Democrats and other critics reacted with horror at both the swastika and the campaign’s initial reaction. The Jewish Democratic Council of America said the proud display of swastikas was “absolutely vile” and the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon called it “beyond unacceptable.”
“A swastika is a swastika,” the group added.
State Democrats also condemned the campaign for not immediately distancing itself from Viviano-Langlais’ use of the Nazi symbol.
“Herschel Walker defended a swastika, and canceling a fundraiser does not change the fact that he failed to condemn a hateful, antisemitic symbol,” said Dan Gottlieb of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Viviano-Langlais promoted the event at her home in the exurbs of Dallas with an invite posted on Twitter that showed it was set to cost attendees $500 to attend the reception, and another $5,800 for VIP treatment.
Viviano-Langlais has long equated vaccine mandates as fascist on her social media page. She also held a “Texas is Now Open” mask-burning bonfire party at their home in March. Several former Trump campaign staffers were billed as speakers for the night.
In a post Wednesday, she said she removed the symbol “because of the left’s need to silence free speech” and that she didn’t intend it to be antisemitic.
“It was a pic showing what happens when fascists demand people insert foreign material into their body they don’t want,” she said.
(Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff columnist Patricia Murphy contributed contributed to this story.)