Herschel Walker skips details in bid to oust Raphael Warnock

Aug 25, 2022, 9:14 AM | Updated: Aug 27, 2022, 3:17 pm
FILE - Republicans Senate candidate Herschel Walker, center, talks with Georgia state Sen. Butch Mi...

FILE - Republicans Senate candidate Herschel Walker, center, talks with Georgia state Sen. Butch Miller, left, and former state Rep. Terry Rogers as Walker campaigns July 21, 2022, in Alto, Ga. Walker has plenty to say about how his Democratic rival, Sen. Raphael Warnock, does his job in Washington. But he is considerably less revealing about what he'd do with the role himself. (AP Photo/Bill Barrow, File)

(AP Photo/Bill Barrow, File)

KENNESAW, Ga. (AP) — Republican Herschel Walker has plenty to say about how his Democratic rival, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, does his job in Washington. But Walker is considerably less revealing about what he’d do with the role himself.

A former football star and friend of former President Donald Trump, Walker tells voters he supports agriculture, veterans and law enforcement. He sells cultural conservatism and his mental health advocacy. He tags Warnock as a yes-man for President Joe Biden. Yet when asked for concrete alternatives to what he calls “the Biden-Warnock agenda,” Walker defaults mostly to generalities and stem-winding tangents — or he turns the question around.

“Have you asked my opponent? Don’t play games. You’re playing games,” Walker told reporters recently when pressed to clarify his stance on exceptions to abortion bans.

The broader approach tracks the way many political challengers — including Warnock two years ago — try to put incumbents on the defensive. That method is especially salient for Republican candidates in a midterm election year when Democrats must run alongside sustained inflation. But Walker’s rendition, as much as any GOP candidacy nationwide, is testing the bounds of that strategy as Democrats hammer the political novice as unfit for high office.

“There is a stark difference between me and my opponent,” Warnock said at a recent campaign stop, theatrically stretching the word “stark” as he smiled. “This race,” the senator continued, “is about who’s ready to represent Georgia.”

Democrats’ paid advertising levels the same charge, without humor.

Among Warnock’s first general election ads was video of Walker claiming he knows of a cure for COVID-19. “I have something that can bring you into a building that would clean you from COVID as you walk through this dry mist,” Walker said. “This here product — they don’t want to talk about that.”

Another Warnock ad hammered Walker for not agreeing to any of three long-standing Georgia general election debates after saying he’d debate Warnock “any time, any day.”

Other ads from Warnock-aligned groups have chronicled Walker’s exaggerations about his business and academic accomplishments and his first wife’s allegations of Walker’s violent behavior.

Those spots are part of an advertising deluge that’s allowed Warnock to burnish his personal brand, explain his Senate record on his terms and launch broadsides against Walker. That reach could prove decisive in a closely divided state: Warnock won his January 2021 special election runoff by 2 percentage points out of 4.5 million votes. Polls suggest reflect another hotly contested race, with Republicans depending on Walker to tilt the balance of the 50-50 Senate.

Warnock has fueled his ad blitz with a considerable money advantage. From the closing weeks of 2020 through June 30 of this year, he’d spent more than $85 million. Walker, by comparison, had raised $20.2 million and spent $13.4 million.

That leaves some Republicans fretting that Walker is behind in establishing his case. “I get really passionate about this because I know Herschel, and the left is trying to paint him into something he is not,” said Ginger Howard, a Georgia representative on the Republican National Committee.

Walker’s answer so far is to make the race a referendum on Biden and Democrats, thus avoiding direct comparisons between the Georgia nominees. Walker aides say that isn’t just the obvious course to navigate a first-time candidate’s liabilities; it also happens, they insist, to resonate with a majority of Georgians.

“This is still a center-right state in a very Republican year,” said adviser Chip Lake, noting Biden’s approval ratings lag badly behind Warnock’s standing in Georgia. “Voters aren’t asking Herschel for white papers on policy.”

Liz Marchionni, who volunteers at her local Cobb County Republican office north of Atlanta, said most voters care more about broader values than specifics. “Every candidate should answer questions,” she said. But Walker “has excellent business experience,” she added. “He’s a strong Christian. And he’s working for freedom for all Americans.”

Nonetheless, the first-time candidate has started doing more policy themed events: roundtables with farmers, meetings with business owners, gatherings with law enforcement, a panel with conservative women, including the candidate’s wife, Julie Blanchard. Walker now huddles regularly with groups of reporters.

Much of that is a shift from his shielded Republican primary campaign. He easily won that contest anyway, leveraging his fame as a former University of Georgia football star and his relationship with Trump. But Lake said the campaign recognized Walker has to “engage with as many Georgians as possible” to defeat Warnock.

In recent appearances, Walker has talked of prioritizing aid to farmers, cutting environmental regulations he says limit domestic energy sources, and championing “second chance” policies to help convicted felons get employment.

But he doesn’t get into details, and his go-to applause lines reflect standard conservative dogma. “We need spiritual warriors … leaders who love this country … people with common sense,” he told a standing-room-only crowd in northern Cobb County.

Lake said “it’s no different than any other campaign I’ve worked on.” And, he added, “I don’t remember Raphael Warnock’s campaign being that detailed” ahead of his victory over then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Indeed, Warnock’s standard pitch this summer is more policy-heavy than in 2020, in part because he talks about measures that he’s helped get through the Senate. Yet in that campaign, Warnock did tout his activism as a Baptist pastor on Medicaid expansion and voting rights, holding forth on policy details. For example, he talked then about capping insulin costs and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical firms. The Senate recently approved drug-price negotiations and a limited version of the insulin cap. Republicans restricted the cap only to Medicare; Warnock called for extending it across all consumers, including the privately insured.

Walker’s latest forays into policy highlight the potential risks in trying to match Warnock.

Discussing inflation before the recent Senate votes, Walker said he endorsed capping insulin prices. Told of Warnock’s efforts, he replied: “I support some of the good things he’s doing, but that’s just a Band-Aid. Why don’t he get back and get to things that are correct?”

Walker didn’t answer a follow-up question about what policies he’d pursue to combat the wider inflation he blames on Warnock. Instead, he veered into a soliloquy on border patrols and crime.

After accusing Warnock of supporting the Inflation Reduction Act without “reading the bill,” Walker admitted he’d read only “some of the bill” himself.

Meeting with north Georgia farmers, he learned that a majority of the federal farm bill — a staple of federal spending for generations — finances consumer food assistance. Farmers don’t necessarily oppose that consumer aid, though Congress often fights over amounts. But Walker heard the breakdown and mused that it is wasteful, even as one farmer explained that feeding a country of 330 million residents “is national security.”

Walker glosses over details when attacking Warnock, as well. Talking about why women should support him, Walker said, “I will keep them safe, not like my opponent, who votes to be soft on crime and soft-on-crime judges.” Walker then alluded to an unspecified local prosecution in Atlanta, alleging it involved defendants who’d been arrested more than 100 times.

“These guys have done so many crimes, and they let them out of jail,” he said. “Right now, that’s something that I would be tough on right there.”

Asked recently which Senate committee assignments he’d seek should he win, Walker said he wants to focus on agriculture and “something with our military” and supporting veterans.

___

Follow AP for full coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves addresses the 77th session of th...
Associated Press

GLIMPSES: One prime minister, many quotable quotes

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — So you’re paying attention to the tectonic geopolitical issues at the U.N. General Assembly, and many of them are addressed in carefully calibrated and crafted diplospeak. Then, suddenly, someone like Ralph Gonsalves steps up to the podium. In an ocean of speakers from around the world — from the driest of […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

NYC appeals ruling over vaccine mandate for police officers

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City officials are appealing a judge’s ruling that they lacked the legal authority to fire members of the city’s largest police union for violating a COVID-19 vaccination mandate. State Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank in Manhattan ruled Friday that the city health department’s mandate couldn’t be used to fire […]
1 day ago
Sri-lankan former captives Nilojan Vasanthakumar, 20, Uthayakamar Mary Edid Prema, 50, Sharujan Gia...
Associated Press

Sri Lankans describe abuse as Russian captives in Ukraine

KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — A group of Sri Lankans held captive by Russian forces in an agricultural factory in eastern Ukraine said Saturday that they were beaten and abused for months before escaping on foot as the Russians withdrew from the Kharkiv region this month. Recounting their ordeal to reporters in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, […]
1 day ago
This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical...
Associated Press

DeSantis declares emergency as storm expected to hit Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for 24 counties as Tropical Storm Ian gathers strength over the Caribbean and is expected to bring heavy rain and hurricane-force winds to the state next week. DeSantis issued the order Friday encouraging residents and local governments to make preparations as […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Eastern Michigan University faculty ratify new contract

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Faculty members at Eastern Michigan University have voted to ratify a new four-year labor agreement with the school. The Eastern Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Friday that 96% of its members voted in favor of the deal which would include pay raises and more favorable […]
1 day ago
Acting Prime Minister of Mali Abdoulaye Maiga addresses the 77th session of the United Nations Gene...
Associated Press

Mali prime minister lashes out at France, UN, regional bloc

Mali’s prime minister lashed out Saturday at former colonizer France, the U.N. secretary-general and many people in between, saying that the tumultuous country had been “stabbed in the back” by the French military withdrawal. In the same remarks, Abdoulaye Maiga praised the “exemplary and fruitful cooperation between Mali and Russia.” In his speech to the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Herschel Walker skips details in bid to oust Raphael Warnock