Warnock keeps Biden at arm's length
July 25, 2022
Also inside today’s edition of Swing State Georgia:
Gov. Kemp testifies before Trump grand jury.
Herschel still hasn’t agreed to any Senate debates.
Republicans step up poll worker training efforts.
With President Joe Biden’s approval rating in Georgia hovering in the low 30′s, Democrats and Republicans know tying U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock to Biden is GOP Senate hopeful Herschel Walker’s best bet to win in November.
That may be why Warnock is taking new steps to put daylight between himself and Biden’s administration. The Senator’s weekend rally in southwest Atlanta offered only the latest example.
At the event, he stressed his bipartisan work with the likes of Republican U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Tommy Tuberville. As he’s said at other rallies, “I’ll work with anyone to get things done for Georgia.”
But he drew a finer line when our AJC colleague Shannon McCaffrey pressed him after the event on whether he thinks Biden is doing a good job as president. Recall that Warnock played an instrumental role in pushing for Biden’s victory in 2020. Now, he essentially deflected.
“I’m focused on the job that I’m doing standing up for the people of Georgia,” Warnock said.
He repeated himself when asked a second time.
“I am standing up for the people of Georgia. I’m going to fight for them every single day. When that means standing with this person, it’s based on what it does for Georgia.”
It’s not the first time Warnock hasn’t been in lockstep with the Biden White House. The Georgia Democrat helped buck a White House plan earlier this year to close a Savannah military installation and has pressed Biden to forgive student debt. He also badgered Biden to support a proposed federal gas tax holiday after months of lobbying.
“I am pushing the President of the United States right now to do student debt cancellation. That’s something that I’ve been urging him to do. It’s the reason why I stood up against the administration in their effort to close the combat readiness center down in Savannah, Ga., my hometown.”
On the GOP side, Walker and his allies link Warnock to Biden at every chance and typically pivot away from questions about Walker’s scandals or Georgia’s new abortion restrictions to deflect to Warnock and the president instead.
Asked about Warnock’s weekend comments, Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise said, “Warnock has voted with Biden 96% of the time, but he refused to say whether or not the president is doing a good job. Remarkable.”
ECONOMIC NUMBERS. Democrats are bracing for more potentially troubling economic news this week on the fiscal front. New consumer confidence data arrive on Tuesday, followed by a likely decision by the Federal Reserve on whether or not to hike interest rates on Wednesday.
The end of the week will bring the latest figures on economic growth and consumer price inflation.
By Friday we’ll have a far clearer picture of the nation’s financial direction headed into the final stretch of the campaigns.
DEBATE DELAYS. Back in June, Herschel Walker said he was absolutely ready to debate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. “I told him to name the place and the time, and we can get it on.”
The place and time have been named, but Walker is still not accepting the Oct. 16 debate invitation from the Atlanta Press Club, which hosted every GOP statewide candidate except Walker ahead of the primary elections in May.
Warnock has agreed to that debate and two others.
More time has brought more excuses from Walker and his camp, who insist he’s ready to debate, but only with certain, non-specified conditions.
Warnock’s campaign hit Walker this morning with this Twitter video about the lack of debate specifics:
Last week, Walker spokeswoman Mallory Blount said, “Any debate we agree to must have a fair and equitable format and unbiased moderator.”
Asked about debating over the weekend, Walker said of Warnock, “I’m trying to figure out who made him the ruler of just giving dates. He hasn’t even talked with us about a debate.”
In response, the Press Club released a statement over the weekend to say no candidates pick the dates for its debates-- the Press Club does that.
“We selected October 16th for our U.S. Senate debate to align with the start of early voting and to ensure Congress would not be in session.”
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GOV TO GRAND JURY: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is set to deliver testimony today to the special grand jury in Atlanta which is investigating Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election.
The Governor is expected to deliver a sworn videotaped statement.
While millions of people have heard the tape of Trump attempting to bully Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into overturning the election, Trump’s behind-the-scenes interactions with Kemp are largely unknown.
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