Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker debated Friday night in Savannah, with the two frequently turning to Warnock’s support for President Joe Biden and both candidates’ laundry lists of scandals.
A first-term senator, Warnock is serving out the remainder of the late Republican Johnny Isakson’s six-year term, which began in 2017. He defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler in a run-off in 2020, and polls have suggested that he and Walker could go to another one. Warnock leads Walker by 3.3 points in the RealClearPolitics average, with neither candidate clearing the 50 point threshold necessary for victory in Georgia elections. (RELATED: Every Republican Except Herschel Walker Is Leading In Georgia: POLL)
Walker, the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and a first-time candidate for office, declared his candidacy following encouragement from his long-time friend, former President Donald Trump. He has frequently highlighted Warnock’s frequent alignment with Biden, despite Georgia’s status as a swing state.
“This race ain’t about me. It’s about what Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden have done to you and your family,” Walker said in his opening statement. “They’ve raised your taxes, gave you high inflation. They even put men in women’s sports.”
Warnock defended his votes for the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and the American Rescue while blaming businesses for raising prices.
“There is no question that people are feeling pain at the pump, at grocery stores, at pharmacy counters, and while we are paying record prices, a lot of our corporate actors are seeing record profits in the oil and gas industry and the pharmaceutical industry. Which is why I’ve stood up for ordinary hard-working Georgia families time and time again,” he said in response to a question about responsibility for increased prices.
The Consumer Price Index, a chief measure of inflation, rose 0.4% in September, for a year-over-year increase of 8.5%. Economists on both the left and the right generally agree that inflation is currently being caused by high levels of federal spending. Congress approved nearly $6 trillion in new spending on COVID-19 pandemic relief, $550 billion for the IIJA, $280 billion for the CHIPS and Science Act, and $740 billion for the Inflation Reduction Act.
“He already said he’d vote against” the Inflation Reduction Act, Warnock said. “He told you he doesn’t believe in capping the cost of prescription drugs for people like my 84-year-old mother.”
Both candidates also denied reports of scandal as false partisan attacks. The Daily Beast has reported that Walker encouraged and paid for a girlfriend’s abortion, while The Washington Free Beacon reported that Warnock’s church attempted to evict residents of a low-income apartment building during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s a lie. I put it in a book. One thing in my life is, I’ve been very transparent. Not like the senator. He’s hid things,” Walker said. “I said that’s a lie, and I’m not backing down.” (RELATED: Top Republicans Rally With Herschel Walker Amid Abortion Allegations)
Warnock defended his opposition to any government restrictions on abortion, claiming that “a patient’s room is too narrow, and too small, and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor, and the U.S. government.”
“Did he not mention that there’s a baby in that room as well?” Walker shot back. “And also, did he not mention that he’s asking the taxpayer to pay for it? So he’s bringing the government back into the room.”
Warnock claimed that the eviction reports stemmed from false attacks from the Walker campaign.
“I’m running against a desperate candidate. Anytime a candidate would stoop to the level of trying to sully the name, he and his allies, to sully the name of Martin Luther King Jr.’s church, and John Lewis’ church, you know that’s a desperate candidate,” he said. “We stand up for poor people every single day and I ran for the Senate to do at a policy level what we do at the local level every single day. I’m not going to be distracted by him and his allies.”
“You’re evicting them right now, this whole time,” Walker responded. “I didn’t write the article.”
Warnock is suggesting that nobody can talk about these unfortunate facts because of Martin Luther King’s connection to his church.
Ironic, considering MLK’s name is at the top of each of the eviction lawsuits filed against the disadvantaged residents of its apartment building pic.twitter.com/vAS7X7Fa35
— Andrew Kerr (@AndrewKerrNC) October 15, 2022
Warnock also denied that he was delinquent in child support payments, despite a lawsuit from his ex-wife.
“My children know that I am with them and for them, and that I support them in every single way that a father does,” he said.
Despite Warnock’s support for Biden’s agenda, he declined to endorse the president for a second term.
“I’ve not spent a minute thinking about what politicians should run for what in 2024,” he said.