Debate between Georgia Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker

When Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker debated in the already heated Georgia Senate race, all eyes were on how the personal allegations against Walker would shake up the first and possibly only debate of the campaign.

Allegations that Walker paid a woman to have an abortion and then, two years later, encouraged the same woman to undergo the same procedure a second time were just a blip in the hour-long debate, which was mostly about Warnock’s connections with President Joe Biden, the big differences between the two candidates on abortion, and even Walker’s use of what looked like a sheriff’s badge, if only for a few seconds.

Walker continued to deny the allegations against him, calling them “lies”, while Warnock, as he did during his election campaign, stayed out of the controversy and instead questioned Walker’s relationship to the truth.

“We will see again and again, as we have already seen, that my opponent has a problem with the truth,” Warnock said. “And just because he says something doesn’t mean it’s true.

Walker used the debate to discuss his own campaign and try to connect Warnock with Biden, who was brought up early and often. In the final few seconds of the debate, he attacked Warnock and Biden to show voters who were on the fence that he was ready to serve.

“For those of you who are worried about voting for me, a non-politician, I want you to think about the damage that politicians like Joe Biden and Raphael Warnock have done to this country.” Walker said.

Here are five things we learned from Friday’s debate:

Walker tries to get Biden on stage

Biden wasn’t there Friday night, but Walker tried again and again to make people think the Democratic president and his Democratic opponent were there.

From the start of the event, Herschel Walker continued to mention Biden in an attempt to link his Democratic opponent to the president’s low approval rating.

“This race is not for me. It’s about what Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden have done to you and your family.” Walker said at the start of the debate.

Later, when asked about voter fraud in the 2020 election, he said, “Did President Biden win? President Biden won and Senator Warnock won. I chose to run because of that.”

He then summarizes his point: “I’m running because he and Joe Biden are the same.”

Warnock didn’t do much to separate himself from Biden. Sometimes he even debated the laws he passed with the help of the president. But when asked about foreign policy, he chose to talk about the time he opposed the Biden administration.

“I’m glad we’re standing up to Putin’s aggression, and we must continue to stand up, which is why I stood up to the Biden administration when it proposed closing the Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center,” Warnock said. “I told the president it was the wrong thing to do at exactly the wrong time. … We kept that training center open.”

Walker responded by returning to his message: “He didn’t stand up. He went to bed every time he appeared.

“It’s obvious,” said a slightly annoyed Warnock, “that he has something he’s trying to point out over and over again.”

“This is a lie”

Before the debate, everyone was wondering how Walker, and to a lesser extent Warnock, would respond to the allegation that Walker paid a woman to have an abortion and then, two years later, forced the same woman to have the same procedure a second time.

As the allegations rocked the already heated Senate race, Walker did what he always does: He called it a lie.

“Like I said, that’s a lie,” Walker said in response to a question from the moderator. “I wrote it in a book, one thing about my life, I was very transparent. Unlike the senator, he has hidden things.

Walker added: “I said it was a lie and I won’t back down. And we have Senator Warnock, people who would do anything and say anything for this place. But I will not back down.”

As he has done in the past, Warnock did not respond to the allegations. Instead, he let Walker fight them off instead of pushing them off himself.

Instead, the senator took a broader view, focusing on Walker’s “truth problem” and less on the specific allegations.

Abortion was a point of contention

The candidates also had disagreements over abortion rights in general. Walker insisted, contrary to what he has said in the past, that he does not support a federal ban and pointed to the state’s strict “heartbeat” law. The law says abortions are illegal once an early heartbeat is detected. This can happen as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, which is before many women even know they are pregnant.

“When it comes to abortion, I am a Christian. I believe in life. Georgia is a country that respects life,” Walker said. Georgia law allows exceptions in cases of rape or incest, as long as a police report is filed in time, and in some cases where the health of the pregnant woman is at risk.

Before Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, state law allowed abortions up to 20 weeks.

Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker discuss abortion as a controversial issue
Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker discuss abortion as a controversial issue

Warnock, who supports abortion rights, repeated an argument he made during the campaign: “The patient’s room is too narrow, small and cramped for a woman, her doctor and the US government…I trust women more than politicians.”

Walker then fired back, highlighting Warnock’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality.

“He told me black lives matter… If black lives matter, why don’t you protect these babies? And instead of aborting these babies, why don’t you baptize them?’ Walker said.

Warnock did not directly answer Walker’s question, as he had done throughout the debate. Instead, he kept repeating the same thing. “There are enough politicians piling up in patient rooms,” the senator said “and I don’t intend to join them.”

Warnock advocates expanding Medicaid, but Walker isn’t sure what to do.

Georgia is one of 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid, so about 1.5 million of its residents lack health insurance. Walker began a confusing non-answer when the moderator asked him if the federal government should step in to ensure everyone has access to health care.

“Well, people have health care coverage right now. It depends on what type of coverage you want. Because if you have a gainful job, you will have health care,” he said. “But everybody else — health care is the kind of health care you’re going to get. And I think that’s the problem.”

Walker also said that Warnock wants people to “depend on the government” while he wants people to “give up government health care and get the health care he has.” As a U.S. senator, Warnock is covered by a state health care plan.

Walker also gave an odd response to Warnock’s criticism of him for not wanting the government to cap the cost of insulin for diabetics.

“I believe in lowering insulin, but at the same time you have to eat right,” Walker said. “Unless you’re eating right, insulin doesn’t help you. So you have to lower food prices and lower gas prices so they can go and get insulin.

Warnock responded by telling viewers who needed the drug that Walker was actually blaming them for their trouble getting it. When Warnock said he would close the Medicaid gap, someone asked him how he would pay for it.

“It’s not a theoretical question for me,” he said, recounting the story of a trauma nurse who lost insurance when she got sick and died “due to lack of health care.”

“Georgia needs to expand Medicaid,” Warnock continued. “It’s costing us no more to expand. What we’re doing right now is we’re subsidizing health care in other states” — a reference to the state’s refusal to receive federal funds in which residents are already paying.

“You have support”

When Walker pulled out what looked like a police badge, he briefly halted discussion of Warnock’s support for the police. The senator talked about how he likes laws that help smaller departments.

The moderator quickly told Walker that he could not bring anything on stage with him. “You have a foothold,” – the moderator was surprised. “That is not allowed, sir.”

Moments earlier, Warnock said Walker “has a problem with the truth” in response to claims Walker had “called (police officers) names” and caused a “decline in morale”.

Warnock then hit Walker with a reference to a police report from more than 20 years ago in which the Republican talked about an exchange of gunfire with police and then made false claims that he worked as a police officer.

“One thing I didn’t do was pretend to be a police officer and I never, ever threatened to shoot with the police,” he said.

Warnock also said his support for giving police more control doesn’t mean he doesn’t support the law.

“You can support police officers, as I have done, through the COPS program, through the Investing in Defense program, while at the same time holding police officers, like all professions, accountable.” he said.

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