GA SAVANNAH — In their one and only debate, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican opponent Herschel Walker clashed on abortion and inflation but agreed that President Joe Biden had rightfully won the 2020 election. The debate was held on Friday in a fiercely close Georgia Senate race.
Walker, a first-time contender, frequently interrupted the discussion in an effort to paint the Democratic incumbent as a product of Washington who votes too frequently with Biden. During his two years in the Senate, Warnock defended his votes in favor of comprehensive legislation on the environment, health care, and gun violence prevention.
Walker, a former University of Georgia football star, is at the center of the current controversy. A barrage of tabloid-style articles and attack ads detailing past domestic abuse allegations against him from an ex wife as well as a recent claim that the Republican paid for a woman’s abortion, which he denies, have damaged Walker’s once-shining reputation in the state.
When questioned about the allegations, Walker responded, “Well, as I said, that’s a lie.” I’m a Christian; I oppose abortion. I will be a senator who protects life because I believe in life.
For the reason that “I trust women more than I trust politicians,” Warnock said he favors legal abortion.
Walker refuted in the debate the untrue allegations of his old buddy, former President Donald Trump, whose early support helped him win the GOP primary. Trump claimed that the 2020 election was rigged.
President Biden and Senator Warnock both triumphed. If Biden won the election over Trump, Walker responded, “That’s why I decided to run.
Walker went into the discussion with modest expectations against Warnock, the articulate pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. formerly served. Walker referred to himself as a “stupid country lad” going into the debate.
Walker’s debate strategy was straightforward: attack Warnock by linking him to an unpopular president, high inflation, and rising gas prices.
Walker was criticized by Warnock for voting against the Inflation Reduction Act in order to counter accusations that his votes contributed to inflation. In response, Walker brought up a negative story regarding a management company’s attempts to remove tenants from an apartment building owned by a charity connected to Warnock’s church. He also hammered Walker over a dubious veterans’ charity,.
Warnock retorted, “Here’s how you know I’m running against a desperate candidate. Any candidate who would attempt to tarnish the names of John Lewis’ church and Martin Luther King Jr.’s church is obviously in a desperate situation. Later, the Warnock campaign responded by producing an article that stated no residents had been evicted since June 2020.
Walker then reiterated the charge, calling attention to one of the Ten Commandments and calling Warnock a liar. He warned, “Do not give false testimony.”
In addition, Warnock chastised Walker for calling him a “soft on crime” politician.
He declared, “My opponent has a problem with the truth.”
In a memorable exchange, Warnock criticized Walker’s previously unstable behavior and his untrue claims that he had experience in law enforcement.
I’ve never pretended to be a police officer, though. In reference to the a reported incident between Walker and his estranged wife, Warnock claimed, “I’ve never threatened a shoot-out with the cops.
Walker then displayed a badge of some kind, implying that he was a member of the police, which prompted the moderator to constantly ask him to put the badge away because it was against the rules of the debate to utilize props.
Regarding health care, there was another another difference between the candidates. Warnock demanded that Medicaid be expanded to include Georgians without insurance as a result of the state’s refusal to accept additional cash under the Affordable Care Act. When asked if he supported Medicaid expansion, Walker sounded unprepared, responding that “people have coverage for health care” and urging Georgians to “get off the government health care and get on the health care he’s got,” while pointing to Warnock.
Because of Walker’s troubled record, GOP insiders have been worried about his chances in a contest that gave Democrats control of the 50-50 Senate in 2020 and may very well be pivotal once more this year.
Despite not totally changing the campaign, the abortion claims have caused Walker to lag behind in averages of public opinion polls conducted on the race in the two weeks since the story surfaced. He is currently more over 3 points behind Warnock, but most polls indicate that the contest is still within the margin of error.
A super PAC supporting Walker has started running a TV ad this week, which includes years-old police body-camera footage of Warnock’s ex-wife crying and accusing him of being abusive during a divorce-related dispute, which Warnock denies. Walker’s negative press has become so pervasive that the race has become centered on him. Republicans attempted in vain to exploit the accusations against Warnock in 2020.
When questioned about the allegations, Warnock responded, “I went through a divorce, like a lot of others,” describing it as a “difficult period,” and adding that he is still close to his two children. “My children know that I am there for them and that I support them in every manner a father supports his children,” I said.
In the same surveys, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is leading Democratic candidate Stacy Abrams by a sizable margin, suggesting that Walker’s personal problems may be hurting him.
According to Walker’s own internal polling, he is practically tied with Warnock, who is performing better among Democratic voters than Walker is among Republican ones and who is winning over independents. The polls also revealed that Chase Oliver, a libertarian, is attracting more Republican voters from Walker than Democratic voters from Warnock, which puts pressure on Walker to convince displeased Republicans of his position on Friday.
However, due to the tightness of the race and the unpredictability of Georgia politics, party officials from both parties are preparing for the potential that no candidate would receive more than 50% of the vote, which would result in a runoff election in December.
Later in the discussion, Warnock declined to state if he supports Biden’s bid for re-election in 2024, telling the audience that he hasn’t given the matter much thought and is instead concentrated on his race.
Walker, however, declared that he will back Trump’s bid in 2024.
Walker answered, “Yes, I would.