Debate over dates | Walker has not confirmed Oct. 16 U.S. Senate debate with Warnock

Georgia’s nationally watched Senate race could determine Washington, D.C.’s, balance of political power
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 3:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2022 at 3:16 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - One day after he seemingly agreed to an Oct. 16 Atlanta Press Club-hosted debate with U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Republican Herschel Walker’s campaign attempted to clarify their candidate’s commitment.

On Wednesday in Athens during an exchange with reporters, Walker initially said he had not committed to a debate “because I don’t let the Atlanta set their debate. They’re going to have to negotiate with my people. You know, it is not just them setting; they’ve got to talk with us as well.

“I think one thing that people got to remember is I just don’t do as they say. I’m running a campaign just like I want to run it. And I told him I’m ready to debate him whenever he is ready to debate. He tell me the time when it shows up, not the Atlanta Debate Club or whatever they are. "

Minutes later, Walker was told by a reporter Warnock had agreed to an Oct. 16 debate. The former UGA football star replied, “So if we’re negotiating, we got everything right? We’ll be debating on October the 16. I’ll be ready to go.”

But on Thursday, Walker campaign spokesperson Mallory Blount said, “Herschel is ready and willing to debate. Debates only work when the voters are the first priority - not the press or a political party.

“Team Herschel doesn’t care about the old way of doing things and we don’t buy into past political debate traditions,” Blount said. “Any debate we agree to must have a fair and equitable format and unbiased moderator. If we can get that, voters will see the deep contrast between Sen. Warnock, who works for Joe Biden, and Herschel Walker, who will work for the people of Georgia.”

Lauri Strauss, executive director of the Atlanta Press Club, said Warnock and Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver have confirmed their participation, but Walker’s campaign has not.

For more than 20 years, the Atlanta Press Club, in partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting, has been hosting political debates in Georgia.

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After they won their respective primaries, Warnock challenged Walker to three debates. Walker’s campaign said he looked forward to debating the Democratic incumbent, but did not specify any dates.

A Quinnipiac poll released in late June showed Warnock has opened a solid lead over Walker by a margin of 54% to 44%.

An AARP Georgia poll earlier this month showed Warnock with a 50% to 47% lead over Walker, but also showed Walker with a narrow lead (52% to 46%) among voters 50 and older.

In another nationally watched race, Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams have agreed to participate in two statewide, televised debates, Oct. 17 and Oct. 30, both beginning at 7 p.m.