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ATLANTA – ATLANTA – Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker says it is time to “get crime stopped,” and he is taking aim at Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia over the issue that Republicans from coast to coast are spotlighting with six weeks to go until November’s midterm elections.
Walker, in comments at a Black business roundtable discussion in Atlanta and in an interview with Fox News Digital, highlighted his independence from Donald Trump, saying that the former president “don’t run” him or his campaign for Senate.
Republican candidates, committees and allied groups in recent weeks have been hammering Democrats – both on the campaign trail and on the airwaves – over crime, an issue that national polls indicate voters trust Republicans over Democrats.
Walker, asked what he would do if elected to bring down crime rates, said on Monday that “one of the things you want to do right away is try to bring some type of trust between the citizen and the police.”
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The first-time candidate and former college and profession football star then criticized Warnock, who is the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr. used to preach, charging that “the guy I’m running against, he’s demonized police officers by calling them names…The police don’t trust him.”
Walker was likely referencing comments Warnock made during a 2015 sermon discussing the shooting death a year earlier of 18-year-old Black teenager Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ensuing unrest and protests, which grabbed national headlines. Warnock said some police involved in the incident had been “showing up in a kind of gangster and thug mentality.”
However, targeting Warnock on the issues of crime and law enforcement may not be so easy. The senator helped author the “Help to Protect Act,” which aims to boost federal funding for local police departments for training, equipment, officer recruitment and retention, and mental health support. Warnock’s bill passed the Senate last month, with a different version passing the House last week.
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Additionally, Walker grabbed headlines earlier this year following reports that he greatly embellished his background in law enforcement.
“Georgians will have a clear choice between Reverend Warnock’s record of fighting to invest in local law enforcement and Herschel Walker’s pattern of lies and exaggerations, including the false claim that he served in law enforcement himself,” Warnock campaign communications director Meredith Brasher told Fox News.
Republicans view Warnock, who narrowly defeated GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler one of Georgia’s twin Jan. 5, 2021 Senate runoff elections, as vulnerable as he seeks a full six-year term representing the battleground state of Georgia. The race is one of a handful across the country that will likely determine if the Democrats retain their razor-thin majority of if Republicans win back control of the chamber.
Walker, who won a Heisman Trophy and helped steer the University of Georgia to a college football national championship four decades ago, jumped into the GOP race to face off against Warnock a year ago, after months of support and encouragement to run for the Senate by Trump, his longtime friend. Thanks to Trump’s support, as well as his own legendary status among many in Georgia and his immense, favorable name recognition in the Peach State, Walker easily captured the Republican nomination in May over a handful of lesser-known rivals.
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However, Walker spotlighted his independence from Trump in comments he made at the business roundtable.
“I don’t dance and sing for nobody. I don’t care whether people always talk about Donald Trump. Yeah, I know Donald Trump. I’ve known him forever,” Walker said. “Donald Trump endorsed me…He better endorse me. I’ve known him forever. But he don’t run Hershel Walker. Nobody run me. Nobody’s ever ran me.”
When asked during the ensuing interview with Fox News if he would like Trump to return to Georgia during the final weeks leading up to the election, Walker answered “if he comes to do something for me. I’m fine with it.”
However, he emphasized “I’m still running for this office. I think they want to try to use Donald Trump and this and that. Herschel Walker is running for the Senate here in Georgia, not Donald Trump. I think everybody liked for Donald to be running, but he’s not running.”
For nearly two years, Trump has repeatedly condemned longtime Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, ever since McConnell congratulated now-President Biden for winning the 2020 presidential election. Trump continues to make unproven claims his loss to Biden was due to a “rigged” and “stolen” election.
When asked if he would support McConnell as Senate GOP leader if he wins in November, Walker answered “you know, right now he’s the leader, right.”
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At his event – where he was accompanied by conservative Reps. Burgess Owens of Utah and Byron Donalds of Florida, and Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. – and in his interview, Walker once again showcased his push for increased domestic production in order to lower record inflation, which is the top issue on the minds of voters.
“I think one thing we’ve got to do is become energy independent again,” Walker stressed.
On the combustible issue of legalized abortion, which has grown in importance since the blockbuster move by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority in June to rescind the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, sending the fight back to the states, Walker reiterated that “my thing is I’m for life. I’m a Christian. I’m not going to apologize for it.”
Walker said “I think it [abortion] should be a state issue, but it’s not.”
He repeated that he “would vote for” a bill by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that calls for a 15-week federal abortion ban. When asked if his support for a federal abortion ban is a turn-off to the majority of Georgians who according to polls oppose their state’s new restrictive abortion law, Walker disagreed, saying “no, I’m not turning them off.”
Walker charged that Warnock is “extreme” on the issue of abortion.
Warnock, a couple of hours earlier at a rally in Atlanta for seniors, once again showcased his support for women’s reproductive rights.
“I have a profound reverence for life. And I also have a deep respect for choice. And I just happen to think that a patient’s room is too narrow and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor and the United States government. That’s too many people in the room,” Warnock told the crowd of supporters. “So I trust women in their wisdom to sit with their own doctor and if they choose, to sit with their pastor. And to pray about that and let their own conscience guide them. Even God gave us a choice.”
Warnock and Walker will face off in one televised debate, on Oct. 14 in Savannah, Georgia.
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Walker grabbed attention a week ago when he seemed to downplay himself ahead of the debate, saying “I’m not that smart” – comments that his campaign argued were sarcasm.
Asked by Fox News if he was attempting to lower expectations of his debate performance ahead of the showdown with Warnock, Walker said “not at all. Everyone has been telling me he’s [Warnock] such a smooth talker. He’s such an incredible speaker….So I reckon I’m not as smart as Warnock. But I’m looking forward to the debate, because this country boy’s gotta show up and be prepared to go, and we’re gonna show the people the differences between he and I.”