© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former school soccer star and present senatorial candidate Herschel Walker speaks at a rally in Perry, Georgia, U.S. September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers/File Picture
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Republican challenger Herschel Walker sparred over a spread of points from abortion and policing to private integrity on Friday as a key contest that might assist decide management of the Senate got here to a head in a contentious televised debate.
Walker, a one-time soccer star and political novice backed by former President Donald Trump, sought to model the incumbent as a rubber stamp for Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda, which Republicans have painted as accountable for inflation, crime and different social ills.
“This race ain’t about me. It about what Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden have accomplished to you and your loved ones,” Walker mentioned. “I am right here to repair it.”
Warnock, pastor at a historic Atlanta church who has served lower than two years within the Senate, offered himself as a dedicated public servant who has labored to cap the value of insulin, management gun violence and shield rights.
Their showdown is likely one of the most carefully watched contests within the Nov. 8 congressional elections. In the course of the hour-long debate in Savannah, Walker accused Warnock of attacking the police, empowering criminals and permitting the highly effective painkiller fentanyl into Georgia by not defending U.S. borders.
“We are going to see time and time once more tonight, as we have now already seen, that my opponent has an issue with the reality. And simply because he says one thing does not imply it is true,” Warnock responded to applause from the viewers.
The race had already been rocked by media reviews that Walker, who has voiced opposition to abortion with out exceptions, paid for an abortion in 2009 to terminate the being pregnant of a girl he was relationship and who later gave beginning to one in every of his youngsters. Walker has referred to as the allegation a “flat-out lie.” Reuters has not independently confirmed the declare.
In the course of the debate, Walker repeated his assertion that the reviews are false and reiterated his place on abortion: “I am a Christian. I imagine in life.”
Democrats maintain slim majorities within the Senate and Home of Representatives. Senate management might be determined by the result of races in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Georgia was a reliably Republican state, with two Republican senators, till Biden beat Trump within the 2020 presidential election. Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff then claimed the state’s two Senate seats in January 2021 run-off elections.
Two distinguished Senate Republicans – Rick Scott and Tom Cotton – campaigned with Walker this week, delivering a message that Republicans have to safe a majority within the chamber to cease Biden’s legislative agenda.
A latest opinion ballot performed by the College of Georgia confirmed Warnock main Walker 46% to 43% amongst doubtless voters.
Walker has been identified to make complicated statements on coverage points equivalent to local weather change, whereas Warnock is an eloquent speaker who’s senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the place slain civil rights chief Martin Luther King as soon as preached.
Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory College in Atlanta, mentioned the controversy was too inconclusive to make a distinction within the race, with Walker demonstrating little greater than a grasp of Republican speaking factors and Warnock failing to dominate the alternate.
“It is not a lot a draw. However each left room for enchancment,” Gillespie mentioned.
If neither candidate will get greater than 50% of the vote on Nov. 8, the race could be determined in a Dec. 6 run-off election.