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Warnock, Walker square off in Georgia Senate debate

Incumbent Georgia Republican Sen. Raphael Warnock squared off against his Republican challenger, former football star Herschel Walker in a Friday debate.

Published: October 14, 2022 6:56pm

Updated: October 14, 2022 8:08pm

Incumbent Georgia Republican Sen. Raphael Warnock squared off against his Republican challenger, former football star Herschel Walker in a Friday debate.

Inflation opened the debate. Walker attributed the rise in consumer prices to the Biden administration's spending plans. He further proposed pursuing energy independence as a solution to both the nation's economic and national security woes. He declined to back cuts to military spending when asked. "We have to be ready for war. This is not a playground," he said.

Warnock, meanwhile, highlighted the fossil-fuels industry's "record profits" amid an energy crunch. He then said he passed the "single largest tax cut... in American history" and the Inflation Reduction Act, which capped the cost of proscription drugs.

Early in the debate, hosts asked Walker about recent bombshell allegations that he had paid for a woman to have an abortion. The Republican firmly denied the allegations and highlighted both his Christian faith and anti-abortion position. Walker highlighted his support for the Georgia abortion bill, which allows abortion prior to the detection of a heartbeat in the fetus. He then noted that the bill allows for exceptions and said he would back the position the people of Georgia put forward.

Warnock, on the other hand, derided an "extremist" Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade and said he trusted women to make the decision. Walker then highlighted Warnock's position as a pastor and challenged him on his pro-abortion stance in that light. Warnock, in turn, said he valued life and highlighted the rates of maternal mortality as the rationale for his position.

"If Black Lives Matters, why are you not protecting those babies? Instead of aborting those babies, why are you not baptizing those babies?" Walker retorted.

The debate hosts asked each candidate about the potential for expanding Medicaid in the state. Whereas Walker asserted that he sought to get people off of the government health care and on to better, private plans, Warnock backed a Medicaid expansion.

Addressing the war in Ukraine, the candidates were asked as to the prospect of the Russian use of nuclear weapons and a potential U.S. response. Warnock responded by highlighting his bid to keep a combat readiness center in Savannah open. Walker, meanwhile, asserted that the U.S. needed to show strength. "Putin is a bully," he said. "The way you beat a bully is to show strength." Neither directly answered the question.

Warnock declined to offer his support for a 2024 presidential bid from John Biden. "You're asking me who's gonnna run in 2024? The people of Georgia get to decide who's gonna be their senator in three days." He further demurred on a follow up question about Biden's mental fitness.

Walker meanwhile, unequivocally endorsed a Trump 2024 run. "I won't leave my ally," he said, before invoking the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and asserting that the U.S. had lost the support of its allies worldwide. "A lot of these people don't trust us no more."

Both candidates fielded a question about a potential name change for the Atlanta Braves. Walker said that the issue was not a pressing matter for Georgians amid other major concerns while Warnock said he trusted the Braves's management to come to an agreement with native tribes.

Warnock declined say if he would back adding more seats to the Supreme Court, while Walker said he opposed such a move.

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