Raphael Warnock Herschel Walker SPLIT
CNN  — 

After weeks of avoiding the abortion allegations against Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is putting money behind the accusations that have roiled the key race.

Warnock’s campaign released a new television ad on Thursday that highlight the allegations that Walker paid for a woman’s abortion and encouraged her to have another one. The Republican has repeatedly denied the accusations and CNN has not independently confirmed them.

The ad, titled “Hypocrite,” contrasts those allegations with Walker’s support for abortion bans with no exceptions, something the Republican called for as recently as this summer.

More on key Senate races

  • GOP Super PAC to stop ad spending in New Hampshire Senate race
  • Oz loans his Pennsylvania Senate campaign another $1 million
  • Warnock to begin airing ad on abortion allegations against Walker after weeks of avoiding the issue
  • ‘The decisive vote’: Fetterman and Oz bet big on women in the Philadelphia suburbs
  • See Senate race ratings by Inside Elections

  • “For you, Herschel Walker wants to ban abortion,” says a narrator, before playing comments the Republican made supporting no exceptions to a national abortion ban. “But for himself,” the narrator then asks before playing news reports about the allegations against Walker.

    The ad includes video from an interview Walker gave to NBC, where the Republican candidate acknowledged that he sent a $700 check to a woman who alleges the money was provided to reimburse her for an abortion, though Walker denies the check was for that purpose.

    “It doesn’t matter whether it’s my signature or not,” Walker said during the interview, before examining the document and concluding, “Yes, that’s my check.”

    When asked by CNN if the ad represented a shift in strategy, Warnock declined to weigh in at length and returned to his familiar talking point on abortion.

    “I think that my position on this issue has remained the same. I still think that a patient’s room is too small to have space for a woman, her doctor and the United States government. I’ve been consistent on this issue. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, and I remain steadfast,” Warnock said.

    Rachel Petri, Warnock’s deputy campaign manager, said the ad focused on the abortion allegations against Walker is “another example of how he isn’t ready to represent Georgia.”

    “As we’ve done throughout the campaign, we are making sure Georgians know the facts about Herschel Walker’s record, including his support for a nationwide abortion ban and no exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the mother’s life,” Petri said.

    Will Kiley, a spokesman for the Walker campaign, responded to Warnock’s new ad by saying the Democratic senator “embarrassed himself at the debate in Savannah” and is “desperate and it shows.”

    “Everything points to Herschel having the momentum on his side,” Kiley added. “Herschel is focused on the issues that Georgians care about, like the economy and crime.”

    The Senate race in Georgia is one of the most closely watched contests in the country, with Democrats hoping Warnock can win a full term for the seat he won in a special election nearly two years ago. Despite some initial concerns about Walker, Republicans coalesced around the former football player at the urging of former President Donald Trump, who got behind him in early 2021. A survey released earlier this month, which was conducted after the allegations about Walker emerged, found Warnock with 52% support among likely voters to 45% for Walker, about the same as in a mid-September poll.

    Although the Warnock campaign has repeatedly used the abortion issue against Walker in the closing months of the campaign, the Democratic senator has strenuously avoided commenting on the allegations against his opponent, even as outside groups supporting him have seized on the drama.

    “There are a lot of [allegations], I’m not sure which ones you are referring to,” Warnock said earlier this month when asked about why he wasn’t weighing in more heavily on the Walker allegations.

    Warnock took the same strategy to his first and only debate against Walker last week, allowing the allegations against the Republican to be just a blip in the hour-long contest. Despite multiple opportunities to bring them up – including during a contentious and extended debate over abortion – Warnock demurred and instead went with a broad attack on Walker’s relationship with the truth.

    “We will see time and time again, as we have already seen, that my opponent has a problem with the truth,” Warnock said. “And just because he says something doesn’t mean it’s true.”

    For Democrats, the allegations against Walker represent the height of hypocrisy, given the Republican said as recently as August that he opposes any exceptions to a ban on abortion, despite arguing during the debate that he supports a Georgia law which bans abortions after about six weeks but makes exceptions for cases of rape or incest, pending a timely police report, and in some cases where the pregnant person’s health is at risk.

    “So, I said, ‘I believe in life.’ I believe in life. And I said, you know, if anyone wants to have an exception, I said, ‘Not in my book,’” Walker said in an August forum. “I said, ‘I’m sorry. I feel bad for anyone that’s a victim of any kind of crime.’ I do. I feel like that. That is terrible and that’s horrible, but we deal with that as it comes.”

    The ad focused on the allegations against Walker is not the only new ad released by the Warnock team on Thursday.

    A second ad, titled “Another Lie,” also features video from the NBC interview and his repeated defense that he has been “very transparent” and written a book “about everything I’ve ever done.”

    “Another lie from Herschel Walker,” says a narrator. “Here’s Walker’s book, and he didn’t write a word about his violence towards women.”

    The narrator adds: “Herschel Walker is lying again.”

    CNN has previously reported on Walker allegedly making violent threats to a number of women, including his ex-wife. Walker has said he has dissociative identity disorder, which was previously known as multiple personality disorder, and has sought to advise people with mental health problems.

    CNN’s Eva McKend contributed to this report.