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Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks at a press conference

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) speaks at a news conference on July 26, 2022 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images)

Debating Empty Podium, Warnock Blasts No-Show Walker: 'He Is Not Ready'

"I think Herschel Walker, if he were here, should tell the people of Georgia why he thinks they should pay for expensive insulin and pharmaceutical companies should be able to charge us whatever they like."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Raphael Warnock on Sunday blasted his Republican opponent Herschel Walker—represented at the Atlanta debate by an empty podium to the Democratic incumbent's left—for lying about his "well-documented history of violence" and opposing student debt relief, prescription drug price reforms, and other popular policy moves.

"I think Herschel Walker, if he were here, should tell the people of Georgia why he thinks they should pay for expensive insulin and pharmaceutical companies should be able to charge us whatever they like," Warnock said, referring to Walker's opposition to the Inflation Reduction Act, a law that includes a number of provisions aimed at lowering sky-high drug costs.

"If Mr. Walker were here, I'd ask him about this disturbing history of violence."

Walker, who refused to attend Sunday's event, has campaigned against the Inflation Reduction Act and mocked its climate investments, asking during an August campaign event, "Don't we have enough trees around here?"

Up until Sunday's debate, which Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver also attended, Warnock had largely declined to spotlight revelations about Walker's personal life, including accusations that he—a fervent opponent of reproductive rights—paid for a former girlfriend's abortion in 2009.

After The Daily Beast broke the abortion story earlier this month and Walker's son accused him of violence, Warnock told reporters that he would "let the pundits decide how they think it will impact the race."

But during Sunday's event, Warnock offered sharp criticism of Walker's past violence against his ex-wife and slammed the Republican Senate nominee for refusing to be forthright with the public.

"If Mr. Walker were here, I'd ask him about this disturbing history of violence," said Warnock. "And we're not just talking about one woman, but multiple women. He threatened to kill his ex-wife, put a gun to her head. He's threatened other women."

"When asked about that, he really hasn't given account for this kind of violence. I want to know from him why he thinks he is ready to represent the people of Georgia and if he's ready to face up to this history of violence," Warnock continued. "This race is about who's ready to represent the people of Georgia in the U.S. Senate. And by not showing up tonight for the job interview, by giving nonsensical answers about this history of violence, Herschel Walker shows he is not ready."

Warnock's victory in a 2021 runoff helped Democrats secure the narrow Senate majority that they're now hoping to retain and expand with the Georgia incumbent's help.

Despite the numerous scandals that have plagued his campaign, Walker remains close behind Warnock in the polls as the national Republican Party, GOP big-money organizations, and former President Donald Trump remain supportive of the former NFL star's candidacy.

With early voting set to begin Monday, Warnock continues to campaign heavily on policy achievements such as the Biden administration's student debt cancellation plan, which the Georgia Democrat pushed for. Applications for up to $20,000 in debt relief went live on Friday.

Walker has said he opposes student debt forgiveness, which surveys indicate is popular with the public—including those who have paid off their student debt.

"I didn't co-sign for anyone's loan and it's not right," Walker said during a debate with Warnock on Friday. "It's not fair."

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