Former football player and Senate candidate Herschel Walker is skipping the GOP’s second primary debate after deciding not to participate in the first debate on April 9. The move has elicited criticism from his opponents and others.
During an interview with WDUN-AM last month, Walker claimed his opponents were jealous because he is “going to win that seat.”
“They can’t win it, so they’re going to the old politics where people are tired of that,” he said. “They want what people are going to do for their state of Georgia, and they can’t do anything but complain.”
Walker is all but certain to win the Republican nomination and will face incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in the general election. The results of a poll were released last week showing Walker leading Warnock 51.4% to 41%. The survey was conducted during the first half of April.
The Republican candidate’s campaign told the Washington Examiner that he will not be present at the debate, which is set to take place on Tuesday. They said he has previously scheduled events in which he is supposed to participate.
In an email to the Examiner, a spokeswoman wrote, “Herschel has previously scheduled events in Milledgeville and Waynesboro tomorrow” and that “[h]e’s laser-focused on meeting voters, winning the primary – then debating and beating Raphael Warnock.”
As much as voters want to see candidates debate so they can understand their positions on the issues, this is a smart move for Walker. Right now, the former football star is far ahead of his primary opponents. At this point, there is no real advantage to participating in debates. If anything, they might cause him more harm than good.
But the other issue at hand is what people might perceive as the real reason Walker, who has also been accused of avoiding non-conservative media outlets, is ducking these debates. Some have surmised his campaign is limiting his exposure because he can be prone to gaffes when asked certain questions. At times he appears to not understand the issues he is discussing.
In one instance, Walker chided a Daily Caller reporter for asking his opinion on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, calling it “unfair” because he had not been “privileged” to get all of the facts on the proposal. During a church gathering, he questioned evolution by asking why apes still existed if humans supposedly descended from them.
Walker has also posted bizarre thoughts on social media. In one instance, he posted a video in which he said his takeaway from reading the Constitution the previous night was that “the people in Washington work for the American people, and we can demand and hold them accountable if we count all the legal votes.” He continued, “But if we start counting illegal votes, we then start working and depending on the government.”
During a conversation with conservative commentator Glenn Beck in 2020, Walker claimed to have a “dry mist” that could cure COVID-19. “Do you know right now, I have something that [you can bring] into a building, that will clean you of Covid, as you walk through this, this dry mist?” he said. “As you walk through the door, it will kill any COVID on your body.” He said the “dry spray” was “EPA, FDA-approved” and that “when you leave, it will kill the virus as you leave.”
Of course, there was no FDA-approved spray that could cure COVID.
However, gaffes do not necessarily disqualify someone from winning office – just ask the current occupant of the White House.
Nevertheless, Walker will not be able to get away with ducking debates when it is time to face Warnock. Even though he is leading the senator, things will likely get tighter as the race amps up, and he will have to go toe-to-toe with the lawmaker. He cannot afford any major gaffes during this showdown.
Even so, the good news is that Walker is a popular figure in Georgia and he will likely still be leading the senator because of the Democrats’ dismal performance over the past year and a half. He does not have to win the debate. But he can’t allow Warnock to wipe the floor with him. As long as he manages to hold his own for most of the event, he can take a loss and still have a decent chance of unseating the senator. Hopefully, his campaign team is preparing him for the debate. Otherwise, the GOP could miss out on an opportunity to take one of Georgia’s Senate seats.