Herschel Walker deemphasizes debate against Warnock: 'I'm not that smart'

U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Georgia, Herschel Walker speaks at a campaign event on September 9, 2022 in Gwinnett, Georgia. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker is being accused of trying to lower voters' expectations for his upcoming debate with incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.

After some haggling, Warnock accepted Walker's proposal for a televised debate in Savannah on Oct. 14, while also calling for an additional debate in either Macon or Atlanta.

Ahead of the debate, however, Walker made a stunning statement while on a trip to the port city.

Speaking to the Savannah Morning News, Walker said that he was "a country boy" when asked what he was doing to prepare for the showdown against the Democratic incumbent.

"I'm not that smart. He's a preacher. (Warnock) is smart and wears these nice suits. So, he is going to show up and embarrass me at the debate Oct. 14th, and I'm just waiting to show up and I will do my best," Walker told reporters.

A spokesperson for Walker's campaign later said that his comments were meant to be sarcastic.

Georgia’s Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the country as Republicans try to wrest back control of Congress. Concurrent 2021 runoff victories by Warnock and Jon Ossoff gave Democrats control of the Senate thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, but Warnock has to run again this November to win a full six-year term.

In the Republican primary, Walker refused to participate in debates with GOP rivals as he cruised to victory. But he also repeatedly proclaimed his eagerness to face off with Warnock in the fall.

In an InsiderAdvantage poll released earlier in September, Warnock now trails Walker with 44 percent versus Walker’s 47 percent. Warnock appears to have lost four points while Walker picked up two points since July’s poll. Libertarian Chase Oliver polled at 4% with 5% still undecided.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.