Political debate season is already in full swing, with a handful of notable contests having already taken place and more scheduled for the future.
But a possible trend has emerged as a growing number of Republican candidates have decided against showing up to debate their Democratic counterparts, prompting one question in particular about one of the most widely watched races ahead of the general election: Will Herschel Walker still debate Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock in Savannah on Friday night as scheduled?
All signs suggest the debate will happen, but that was also the case in Texas before Republican Gov. Greg Abbot was scheduled to square off against Democrat Beto O’Rourke on Monday night. Instead, Abbot just plain didn’t show up at all.
Perhaps Abbott was too busy boasting on Twitter about how Texas has bussed more than 10,000 migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to Democratic-led cities. Or, it could just be part of a larger trend of Republicans bucking political tradition in an effort to rewrite the rules of political engagement.
That seemed to be the case last week in Kentucky when Republican Sen. Rand Paul also skipped out on his debate against Charles Booker, who called his rival candidate a “coward” for not showing up.
Paul instead opted to tweet a video that took a page straight out of the Republican fearmongering playbook and was described as “racism” by Booker.
Seeing a pattern here?
Herschel Walker’s campaign managers might be, considering public speaking isn’t necessarily one of the Republican nominee’s strong points.
There were previously reports circulating that Walker refused to debate Warnock in Savannah unless he was provided the debate topics in advance. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Walker’s campaign aides have said that isn’t true, but, Warnock’s campaign manager seemingly thought otherwise just last month.
“It’s time for Herschel Walker to stop playing games,” Quentin Fulks said just about a month ago. “The job of a U.S. senator isn’t one where you know the topics ahead of time or get a cheat sheet, and Herschel Walker shouldn’t need one to find the courage to walk on a debate stage.”
Before that, it appeared that Walker was scrounging for any excuse for not debating Warnock.
At another debate scheduled for this Thursday night in Macon, Walker previously said he didn’t want to debate Warnock because millions of Americans would be distracted by Sunday night football games.
“You’ve got people that are contributors to his campaign and it’s in this room that only two people gonna see it on a Sunday night, I think,” Walker said in August. He went on to appeal to “NFL Football” so voters “can see what it is, see the contrast between the two of us. I don’t know how you can ask for anything better.”
It’s nonsensical statements like those that could have a damning effect on Walker and his candidacy to the point where they might feel it behooves them to miss Friday night’s debate altogether.