On the Georgia Trail: Warnock shifts strategy as 2nd woman accuses Walker

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

DILLARD — For weeks, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has offered only muted criticism of the reports that his Republican opponent paid for a 2009 abortion for his then-girlfriend. When pressed on the campaign trail, the Democrat would only say it was an example of Herschel Walker’s “disturbing pattern” of behavior.

But with polls tightening less than two weeks before the election, Warnock’s campaign had a much different response to the allegations Wednesday from a second woman who claimed Walker pressured her to have an abortion.

Warnock aide Rachel Petri released a statement that invoked Walker’s pattern of violent behavior, falsehoods and bewildering statements on the campaign trail, as well as exaggerations about his business experience and academic record.

“We know Herschel Walker has a problem with the truth, a problem answering questions and a problem taking responsibility for his actions,” Petri said.

“Today’s new report is just the latest example of a troubling pattern we have seen play out again and again and again,” Petri added. “Herschel Walker shouldn’t be representing Georgians in the U.S. Senate.”

Walker has called each abortion claim a “lie” designed to hurt his election chances. An avowed opponent of abortion rights — he has called for an outright ban on the procedure — Walker told reporters at a campaign stop in Dillard that he was “done with this foolishness.”

“I’ve already told you this is a lie,” he said, “and I’m not going to entertain it.”

At each of his stops, he was joined by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has been a regular on the campaign trail in Georgia even as he fights a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in Atlanta.

Graham took a shot at Gloria Allred, the high-powered attorney representing the woman who accused Walker on Wednesday. Allred has made her reputation representing women who have accused men -- including Tiger Woods, Anthony Weiner and Herman Cain -- of wrongdoing.

“I’ve seen this movie before,” Graham said, describing Allred as a “celebrity lawyer from California.”

In the hours before Allred’s press conference, Walker’s campaign scrambled to respond. In Dillard, he didn’t take questions from reporters and skipped his usual photo line with supporters. Walker also canceled a planned appearance on Todd Starnes’ radio show.

“What was the excuse, Grace? The bus broke down,” Starnes said.

“Yeah, his bus was broken down,” executive producer Grace Baker replied.

“You know it happens,” Starnes replied. “What are you going to do?”

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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Stacey Abrams: Lagging in the polls, but aggressive on the stump

NEWNAN-- Democratic governor nominee Stacey Abrams took her “Let’s Get it Done” bus tour to Ft. Valley and Newnan on Wednesday afternoon.

Although recent polls have shown her trailing to Gov. Brian Kemp by as much as 10 points, Abrams pumped up the Newnan crowd of about 200 with a speech that ripped Kemp for his positions on everything from guns to abortion to the economy and more.

On gun safety, Abrams hammered Kemp for signing the new Georgia law that eliminates the requirement to have a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

“I know how to shoot a gun. My great grandmother taught me, her name was Moo Moo,” she said. “She taught me two things and one is you don’t point that weapon at anything you don’t plan to shoot at, even in a commercial.”

She also blamed Kemp for leaving taxpayers’ money on the table by not expanding Medicaid, as well as for high housing and health care costs.

On abortion, Abrams said Kemp wants to be part of women’s private decisions.

“He has broken the promise of privacy, the promise of freedom in the state of Georgia for women,” she said to the cheering crowd. “And I’ll tell you this, it took a man to break that promise. It’s going to take a woman to put it right.”

Frank Donaho, a retired real estate appraiser in Coweta County, said he likes Abrams, “Because I think she’s right and I’m tired of the Trump world.”

Jameka Beadles, a school nurse, said abortion rights are a major issue for her.

“I used to be in the military and I’ve seen soldiers come in who have been raped,” she said. “And you’re telling me they can’t go get an abortion? As a nurse, it bothers me that people are making choices for a woman’s life.”

Bishop, West meet in final Congressional District 2 debate

COLUMBUS — A audience of roughly 100 people at University Hall auditorium on the campus of Columbus State University witnessed the third and final debate between Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop and his Republican challenger, Chris West.

Bishop often tried to highlight areas where he disagreed with Democratic leaders. In a question on abortion, he did not take the same approach as other candidates like Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock who have refused to say what restrictions, if any, they support. Bishop said he supports the federal ban on so-called “partial-birth abortions.”

And Bishop also pointed out that he supported construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project halted for good by President Joe Biden.

West said more than once that Bishop votes too often with Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and that voters in the 2nd Congressional District in southwest Georgia need someone who better reflects their values.

“Our farmers don’t appreciate when their representative votes with the district of San Francisco,” West said, a reference to Pelosi’s home turf. “Our issues are here are vastly different than theirs, and I come from an agricultural family.”

Bishop, who has served for 30 years, is considered the front-runner in the race. But a strong Republican turnout could help West in what is Georgia’s only toss-up congressional seat.