Candidate for US Senate Herschel Walker (R-GA) speaks to supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally at the Banks County Dragway on March 26, 2022 in Commerce, Georgia. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
Although incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker — the main candidates in Georgia’s 2022 U.S. Senate race — have exchanged plenty of barbs, they haven’t had a formal debate. But that will change on Friday, October 14, when Warnock and Walker have agreed to debate one another.
Warnock, often described as a great public speaker, is expected to outperform Walker in the debate. But Walker may have a trick up his sleeve: setting expectations low and then overperforming.
In an interview with the Savannah Morning News, Walker admitted that Warnock is a better speaker — and he wasn’t shy about making self-deprecating comments.
“I am getting out talking to people and talking to you (referring to the media),” Walker told the Morning News. “I’m a country boy. 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 October 14, and I’m just waiting to show up. And I will do my best.”
Although Walker has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, his “I’m not that smart” rhetoric during that interview is the opposite of the approach that Trump is known for. Trump’s approach is to brag endlessly in the hope of intimidating his opponents; Walker, during that interview, seemed to be making a point of setting the bar low — which can be an effective tool in politics. In other words, lower expectations, try to sound humble, overperform and benefit from it.
But at the same time, Walker’s comments during that interview didn’t sound like someone who was throwing in the towel. And he seemed to be saying that while Warnock is a better speaker, he would be better in the U.S. Senate from a policy standpoint.
Walker told the Morning News, “The race is neck and neck. And what I have to do is continue to get out and meet people, which is what I’m doing here. I’m more than just a football player. What I’m doing now is moving forward by talking to the voters, because that’s what really counts, and let them know what I stand for. I was a great football player, but I will be a better senator because I represent the people.”
Polls released in September indicate that Georgia’s 2022 U.S. Senate race could be a major nail-biter between now and Election Day. A Quinnipiac poll released on September 14 showed Walker trailing Warnock by 6 percent, yet a Fox 5 Atlanta/Insider Advantage poll released earlier in the month showed Walker ahead by 3 percent.