Walker says Savannah debate with Warnock still on after abortion allegations rock campaign

WADLEY, Ga. - Despite a chaotic week in the Georgia U.S. Senate race, the solitary debate between Herschel Walker and incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock on Oct. 14 in Savannah seems to be going ahead.

During a rally Thursday afternoon at a lumber mill in a small South Georgia town near located 30 minutes from his childhood home, Walker bantered with a reporter when asked the debate at Plant Riverside's District Live entertainment venue.

"Oh, is (Warnock) going to be there?" Walker said. "Are you going to be there? Ok, so I'll see you there."

Read: The public is eager for the Herschel Walker-Raphael Warnock debate. Here's what to know

More: 'I'll see you there.' U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker denies report, affirms debate date

Walker has been much of this week denying reports from the Daily Beast, an online news website, that he paid for a former, unnamed girlfriend's abortion and that she is the mother of one of his children. The allegations brought sharp criticism from his adult son, Christian Walker, a right-wing media personaliy .

Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker speaks with reporters following a campaign stop. Walker's appearance was his first following reports that a woman who said Walker paid for her 2009 abortion is actually mother of one of his children - undercutting Walker's claims he didn't know who she was .(AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker speaks with reporters following a campaign stop. Walker's appearance was his first following reports that a woman who said Walker paid for her 2009 abortion is actually mother of one of his children - undercutting Walker's claims he didn't know who she was .(AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

In Savannah, Warnock says he is 'doing the work'

Two hours west of Walker's campaign rally, his opponent, Warnock, stumped in his hometown of Savannah.

As Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” played over loudspeakers, Warnock’s campaign bus pulled into a sunny lot across from Conner’s Temple Baptist Church. The church is located across the street from the public housing project, Kayton Homes, where Warnock grew up.

The rally was part of a three-day bus tour across South Georgia.

Asked about the allegations against Walker and his opponent's denial, Warnock declined comment, instead leaving it up to the voters to decide.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock meeting with community members after his Savannah Rally at Conner's Baptist Church on Thursday, October 6, 2022
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock meeting with community members after his Savannah Rally at Conner's Baptist Church on Thursday, October 6, 2022

“In a democracy, that’s not up to him or me [on whether he believes the allegations]. It’s up to the voters of Georgia,” Warnock said. “He wants a nationwide ban with no exceptions. That would include rape, incest and the life of the mother. I think that raises some very thorny moral issues, and those decisions ought to be left squarely in the hands of women and not politicians.”

As for the Oct. 14 debate and his preparations, Warnock said he’s “been doing the work and that is exceedingly clear.”

A long time coming

Whether Warnock and Walker would debate at all was an open question for months, even after both candidates won runaway victories in the primaries. Two days after the primary Warnock agreed to three pre-scheduled debates, but Walker held out.

In August, Walker countered with an offer of the Savannah debate in front of a live audience.

Walker addresses the crowd on Thursday, Oct. 6, in Wadley, Georgia, before speaking briefly with reporters about reporting that he paid for a former girlfriend's abortion.
Walker addresses the crowd on Thursday, Oct. 6, in Wadley, Georgia, before speaking briefly with reporters about reporting that he paid for a former girlfriend's abortion.

Warnock did not agree to the Oct. 14 debate until September, when the campaign asked for at least one other debate and that neither candidate receive questions ahead of time. In mid-September, the Warnock campaign formally accepted the invitation to the Savannah debate despite Walker not agreeing to a second one.

More: Herschel Walker finally agrees to debate Raphael Warnock — but at a new, fourth debate

Also: U.S. Senate debate set: Warnock-Walker to meet Oct. 14 in Savannah before a live audience

Shortly thereafter, Walker told reporters in Savannah not to expect much from his debate performance.

“I'm a country boy," he said. "I'm not that smart. He's a preacher. (Warnock) is smart and wears these nice suits. So, he is going to show up and embarrass me at the debate Oct. 14th, and I'm just waiting to show up and I will do my best.”

A proposed debate in Macon was canceled when only Warnock and Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver agreed to appear, while the Atlanta Press Club U.S. Senate debate seems planned to go forward whether Walker shows or not.

On Thursday, reporters for the Savannah Morning News received press credentials from WSAV in a package that announced the event as the candidate's "only face-to-face debate during the campaign ahead of Election Day."

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Herschel Walker said U.S. Senate debate with Raphael Warnock still on