Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker can’t tell the truth, articulate a cogent thought, or explain legislation comprehensively, but he’s really good at dodging a debate against his Democratic rival, Sen. Raphael Warnock.
As reported by Georgia Public Radio (GPB) in early August, Walker agreed to a debate against Warnock in Savannah on Oct. 14. The debate is sponsored by the enormous conglomerate Nexstar Media Group, which owns several television stations in Georgia, including WSAV in Savannah.
In an email to GPB, Walker’s campaign team said it had accepted the Nexstar debate because the "format and the moderators are fair and would allow each candidate equal opportunity to share their message.”
But it’s also extremely likely that the Walker camp really wanted this particular debate because, according to the terms as published on GPB, the “topic[s] will be provided to the campaigns prior to the broadcast,” although “specific questions will not.”
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As we’ve reported here in the past, it’s understandable Walker would be terrified to face the incumbent senator and senior pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. It’s understandable, too, that Walker might be nervous about having to defend himself and his own claims, including how his COVID-19 spray works, why he hid from the public and his own campaign staff that he’d fathered three children, or how he said he’d graduated from college but didn’t, or why he said he’d co-founded a veterans organization when he hadn’t. And he surely doesn’t want to answer questions about his history of domestic violence.
The Daily Beast reports that Walker’s team brought on renowned debate coach Brett O’Donnell, a noted Republican strategist who helped prep candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain for debates.
As for the other three debates Warnock has committed to—WTOC Savannah, the Mercer University Center for Collaborative Journalism, and the Atlanta Press Club—Walker’s team, according to The Daily Beast, has been less than transparent.
Two days ago, Walker posted a video on Twitter implying that he was refusing to debate Warnock at the Atlanta Press Club because of the group’s campaign donations made to Democrats, including Joe Biden and Warnock
“Think about it. The people supposedly running a fair debate are helping pay for Warnock’s campaign,” Walker said in the video.
Lauri Strauss, organizer of the Atlanta Press Club debate, told The Daily Beast that the Walker camp was initially “quick to respond,” but Tuesday, the team rejected the offer to debate.
Supposedly, Walker’s pivot was sparked by information that Strauss had donated $173 to President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign and $35 to Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona. Strauss acknowledged to The Daily Beast that both candidates are “longtime family friends,” and she had not donated any money to candidates in Georgia.
In a statement provided to The Daily Beast, Strauss wrote:
“The reason we are able to host an extensive series each year is largely due to an endowment from the late Charlie Loudermilk, who was a known conservative businessman in Georgia and lifelong Republican,” and that Loudermilk believed in “a robust discussion of the issues from people of differing political views.”
According to reporting from the Federal Election Commission, Nexstar has donated to numerous Democratic groups and candidates, including Warnock.
Warnock’s campaign manager, Quentin Fulks, told The Washington Post, “Two months ago, Rev. Warnock accepted invitations to three well-established Georgia debates in Atlanta, Savannah, and Macon to be broadcast statewide, after Herschel Walker said he would debate Rev. Warnock anywhere, anytime. Nothing has changed.”
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