When the Democratic senator. Raphael Warnock and republican Herschel walker gathered to debate in the already contentious race for the Georgia Senate, all the focus was on how the personal allegations against Walker would upset the first – and probably the only – debate in the countryside.
Allegations that Walker paid for a woman to terminate her pregnancy and then, two years later, encouraged the same woman to have the procedure a second time, however, were just a blow in the competition of ‘an hour, which was more focused on the Warnock Links. to President Joe Biden, the stark differences between the two candidates on abortion and even, albeit briefly, Walker’s use of what appeared to be a sheriff’s badge.
Walker continued to deny the allegations about him – calling them a ‘lie’ – and Warnock, as he did on the campaign trail, did not engage in controversy, choosing instead to question the relationship of his Republican adversary with the truth.
“We’ll see over and over again, as we’ve seen before, that my opponent has a problem with the truth,” Warnock said. “And just because he says something doesn’t make it true.”
For Walker, the debate was as much about touting his own candidacy as it was about tying Warnock to Biden, who was invoked early and often. His efforts, in the final moments, to reassure voters sitting on the fence about his willingness to serve also included a jab at Warnock and Biden.
“For those of you who are worried about voting for me, a non-politician, I want you to think about the damage politicians like Joe Biden and Raphael Warnock have done to this country,” Walker said.
Here are five takeaways from Friday’s debate:
Biden was not on stage Friday night, but Walker repeatedly tried to convince viewers that the Democratic president was apparently there with his Democratic opponent.
From the start of the event, Walker repeatedly invoked Biden, hoping to tie his Democratic opponent to the president’s bottom. approval rate.
“This race is not about me. It’s about what Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden did to you and your family,” Walker said leading the debate.
Later, when pressed for voter fraud in the 2020 election, he added, “Did President Biden win? President Biden won and Senator Warnock won. That’s why I decided to run.
He then summed up his point: “I’m running because he and Joe Biden are the same.”
Warnock has done little to distance himself from Biden, sometimes even touting the legislation he passed with the president’s help. But when asked about foreign policy, he took the opportunity to note a specific moment when he opposed the Biden administration.
“I am happy that we are resisting Putin’s aggression and that we must continue to resist, which is why I stood up to the Biden administration when they suggested that we should close the training center of Putin. Savanah’s combat readiness,” Warnock said. “I told the president it was exactly the wrong thing to do at the wrong time. … We kept that training center open.
Walker walked back his message in response: “He didn’t get up. He lay down every time this happened.
“It’s obvious,” said a somewhat exasperated Warnock, “that he has a point that he’s tried to make time and time again.”
Going into the debate, the focus was on how Walker – and arguably less predictably, Warnock – would approach accusations that the Republican nominee paid for a woman to terminate her pregnancy and then, two years later, encouraged the same woman to have the procedure a second time.
Walker did what he did repeatedly as the allegations raged in an already contentious Senate race: label the allegations a lie.
“Like I said, that’s a lie,” Walker said in response to a question from the moderator. “I put it in a book, one thing about my life, I was very transparent. Not like the senator, he hid things.
Walker added: “I said it was a lie and I’m not backing down. And we have Senator Warnock, people who would do anything and say anything for this seat. But I’m not going to not back down.”
CNN has not independently verified the claims about Walker.
Warnock, as he has done before, did not respond to the allegations, opting instead to let Walker fight them without pushing them himself.
Instead, the senator took a broad approach, focusing on Walker’s “problem with the truth” and less on the specific allegations.
The candidates also clashed over abortion rights more broadly, with Walker insisting he does not support a federal ban, contrary to past statements, and pointing to the state’s restrictive law on ” heartbeats “. The law prohibits abortions as soon as early heart activity is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.
“On abortion, I am a Christian. I believe in life. Georgia is a state that respects life,” Walker said.
Georgian law provides exceptions for cases of rape or incest, pending a timely police report, and in certain cases where the health of the pregnant person is at risk.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, state law allowed abortions up to 20 weeks.
Warnock, who supports abortion rights, repeated an argument he made on the track: “A patient’s room is too cramped and small and cramped for a woman, her doctor and the government American. … I trust women more than politicians.
Walker then fired back, citing Warnock’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality.
“He told me that black lives matter… If black lives matter, why don’t you protect those babies? And instead of aborting these babies, why don’t you baptize these babies? said Walker.
Warnock, as he has throughout the debate, did not directly respond to Walker’s provocation. Instead, he repeated his position.
“There are enough politicians cramming into patient rooms,” the senator said, “and I have no intention of joining them.”
Georgia is one of 12 states not to expand Medicaid and currently has about 1.5 million uninsured residents.
Walker, when asked by the moderator if the federal government should step in to make sure everyone has access to health care, began a confusing non-response.
“Well, right now people have health care coverage. It depends on the type of coverage you want. Because if you have a valid job, you will have health care,” he said. “But everyone – having health care is the type of health care you are going to get. And I think that’s the problem. »
Walker went on to say that Warnock wants people to be “dependent on the government”, while he wants “you to leave government health care and get the health care it has”.
Note: Warnock, as a US Senator, benefits from a government health care plan.
Walker also gave a confusing response to Warnock’s attack on his opposition to federal legislation capping the price of insulin for people with diabetes.
“I believe in lowering insulin, but at the same time you have to eat well,” Walker said. “Unless you’re eating well, insulin doesn’t do you any good. So you have to bring food prices down and you have to bring gas prices down so they can get insulin.
Warnock responded by telling viewers who needed the drug that Walker was actually blaming them for their difficulties accessing it.
Warnock, about his pledge to close the Medicaid gap, was asked how he would pay for it.
“It’s not a theoretical question for me,” he replied, referring to the story of a nurse in a trauma department who lost her cover when she fell ill and, as he said, died “due to lack of health care”.
“Georgia needs to expand Medicaid,” Warnock continued. “It costs us more not to develop. What we’re doing right now is we’re subsidizing health care in other states” — a reference to the state’s refusal to accept the federal funds that residents already contribute.
The debate in the Warnock police support debate, in which the senator highlighted his support for legislation that supported small departments, was briefly derailed when Walker pulled out what appeared to be a police badge.
The moderator quickly reprimanded Walker, reminding him that props weren’t allowed on stage.
“You have a prop,” said the surprised moderator. “It’s not allowed, sir.”
Moments earlier, Warnock – in response to Walker’s claims that he had “insulted (police officers)” and brought down “morale” – had said his opponent “had a problem with the truth”.
Warnock then hit Walker with a reminder of a more than two-decade-old police report in which the Republican discussed gunfights with police and a later false claim by Walker that he had previously served in law enforcement.
“One thing I didn’t do was I didn’t pretend to be a police officer and I never, ever threatened a shootout with the police,” he said. .
Warnock also argued that his support for more scrutiny of police did not undermine his support for law enforcement.
“You can support the police, as I have, through the COPS program, through the investment to protect program, while holding the police, like all professions, accountable,” he said. he declares.