Keller @ Large: Candidates playing the character card are not without risk

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BOSTON — Politicians often bring up their personal lives when campaigning, modeling character as a qualification for office. Remember how candidate Joe Biden repeatedly shared the tragedy of losing his wife, daughter, and son as proof of his compassion and understanding of “how hard life can hit you”?

It’s no surprise, then, to see New Hampshire GOP Senate candidate Don Bolduc in his new TV ad touting his military service and proclaiming “it’s not about party politics, it’s about Granite Staters… We don’t need career politicians who run on the money of special interests, self-interests and lobbyists, we need people with hearts.

Given how Bolduc was hammered by incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan – who also invokes her character in a TV ad highlighting her experience as the mother of a disabled child – for her opposition to abortion rights , it is not surprising that Bolduc wants to change the subject for character, fast.

But the saga of former soccer star Herschel Walker, locked in a tight Georgia race for the Senate, is a cautionary tale about the risk of playing the character card.

“I believe in life, not excuses,” Walker said several times during the campaign. But the Daily Beast website reports that Walker encouraged and helped pay for the abortion of an unidentified woman he dated 13 years ago. She shared a receipt for the procedure, a recovery card and an image of a check from Walker to back up her claims.

And Walker’s 23-year-old son Christian says in two Twitter videos that his dad is lying. “Don’t lie. Don’t lie about my mother, don’t lie about me, don’t lie about the lives you’ve destroyed, and act like you’re a moral family man. You should all care, Tories.”

We learned from Bill Clinton in the 1990s that marital infidelity and lying about it does not necessarily disqualify you from being elected and re-elected. And Donald Trump has shown that if voters believe you’re passionate about the things they care about, a checkered past and a loose relationship with the truth isn’t a problem.

But for Walker, the atmospheres of do as I say not as I do are problematic when it comes to an issue like abortion. And in New Hampshire, admiration for Bolduc’s military service and “outsider” status probably won’t be enough to get abortion-rights supporters to put the issue aside.

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