Warnock on Walker: ‘A disturbing pattern’

Credit: Curtis Compton / AJC

Credit: Curtis Compton / AJC

MACON — As an abortion scandal rocks the campaign of Republican Herschel Walker, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock on Friday emphasized his support of abortion rights before a crowd in Middle Georgia.

“I am a man of faith. I am a pastor. I have a profound reverence for life, and I have a deep and abiding respect for choice,” he said.

The Democrat never mentioned Walker by name in his 25-minute speech. But questioned about the Walker saga by reporters following the event, Warnock said it raised questions.

“We have seen some disturbing things. We’ve seen a disturbing pattern, and it raises real questions about who is actually ready to represent the people of Georgia,” he said.

In the Walker campaign, meanwhile, the upheaval continued. Walker fired political director Taylor Crowe over suspicions he had leaked information to the media, two people with direct knowledge of the move told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The fast-moving chain of events in the closely watched race began Monday as The Daily Beast reported that Walker, a staunch opponent of abortion, had urged a girlfriend in 2009 to terminate a pregnancy and reimbursed her for the procedure. They also reported that the woman, who was not named out of privacy concerns, also had a child with Walker.

On Friday, The New York Times reported that Walker had urged the woman to have a second abortion two years later and that their relationship ended when she refused.

The AJC has not verified the reports by The Daily Beast or the Times.

The revelations prompted his 23-year-old son Christian to retaliate against his father on social media, saying he was a liar who had threatened him and his mother with violence.

“He has four kids, four different women, wasn’t in the house raising one of them,” he said of his father in a video he posted to Twitter. “He was out having sex with other women. Do you care about family values?”

Walker has denied the allegations and promised to file a defamation lawsuit against The Daily Beast, although one has yet to be filed. In his first event open to the media since the tumult began, Walker said the claims were all about politics.

“I know why you’re here,” he said Thursday, reading from a prepared statement to a few dozen reporters at an east Georgia lumber yard. “You’re here because the Democrats are desperate to hold on to this seat here, and they’re desperate to make this race about my family.”

About 150 supporters turned up to hear Warnock speak in Rosa Parks Square in downtown Macon. A handful of Walker backers, carrying signs, stood across the street. Two anti-abortion protesters sought — without success — to interrupt the Democrat’s speech.

“My dear friend over there is screaming and yelling because we have a different view about an important issue: reproductive health,” he said.

Warnock seemed to make a veiled reference to Walker’s own abortion issues.

“If you are concerned about life, as I am, it seems to me that you would be morally offended by the fact that a decade after we passed the Affordable Care Act, Georgia state officials are still refusing to expand Medicaid ... and people are dying because they cannot get health care coverage,” he said.

Walker opposes Medicaid expansion.

Warnock also said he was “frustrated by this activist Supreme Court by the ways in which it has attacked women.”

“And I’m nervous this week because they are hearing the case on voting rights. It’s a terrible shame when you have to be nervous that the Supreme Court is at work and you’re wondering what other core constitutional rights are they going to undermine,” he said.

Warnock was also set to campaign in Albany later Friday before a stop in Columbus on Saturday.

Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.