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NORCROSS, Georgia – Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker are trading fire over whether Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves should change their name and over the combustible issue of legalized abortion.
Asked whether the World Series champion Braves should change their name, as part of the ongoing argument over the long-term use of Native American names in professional and collegiate sports, Warnock told Fox News, “I am aware that the Braves organization is having conversations with the Native American community. I trust them to work through that process and come to a conclusion that makes sense.”
The senator, taking questions from reporters after speaking and rallying with Korean seniors in this suburban community northeast of Atlanta, Georgia, with a large Asian American population, also said lightheartedly, “I think that I want to see the Braves win the World Series again .”
A day earlier, in an interview in Atlanta with Fox News Digital and later in a conversation with host Sean Hannity on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Walker insisted that he did not want to see the Braves change their name.
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“I want to ask Senator Warnock, and he needs to come out and say, do he believe they should change the name? Well, I don’t,” the former college and professional football star said on “Hannity.”
Walker also noted without elaborating, “I’ve asked some Native Americans, and they were okay with it.”
The Atlanta Braves’ name and the team’s accompanying tomahawk logo have long come under criticism as offensive to Native Americans. For decades during baseball games, Braves fans have performed a tomahawk chop with their arms while chanting a battle cry.
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The controversy was back in the national spotlight on Monday, as the world champions visited with President Joe Biden at the White House. While President Biden made no mention of the controversy as he greeted the Braves, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “We believe it’s important to have this conversation. Native American and Indigenous voices, they should be at the center of the conversation.”
Walker, in his interview with Fox News Digital, was also asked about abortion, which has grown in importance since the blockbuster move by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority in June to rescind the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, sending the fight back to the states.
Walker reiterated, “My thing is, I’m for life. I’m a Christian. I’m not going to apologize for it,” but “I think it [abortion] should be a state issue, but it’s not.”
He repeated that he “would vote for” a bill by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that calls for a 15-week federal abortion ban. When asked if his support for a federal abortion ban is a turn-off to the majority of Georgians who according to polls oppose their state’s new restrictive abortion law, Walker disagreed, saying “no, I’m not turning them off.”
And Walker claimed it is Warnock who is “extreme” on the issue of abortion.
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Warnock has repeatedly showcased his support for women’s reproductive rights.
“I have a profound reverence for life. And I also have a deep respect for choice. And I just happen to think that a patient’s room is too narrow and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor and the United States government. That’s too many people in the room,” Warnock told the crowd of senior supporters at a rally in Atlanta on Monday.
And on Tuesday he took aim at Walker, arguing, “My opponent has wasted no time supporting a national ban, a national ban with no exceptions. So that includes rape, incest and the health of the mother.”
But asked by reporters if he would accept any federal limitations on access to abortion, Warnock would only say, “Women have seen a core constitutional right of theirs that they’ve known now for half a century undermined by an activist court.”
Asked again, Warnock answered, “I think that we’ve got to explore all options to protect this core constitutional principle.”
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Warnock, the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr. used to preach, narrowly defeated GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler one of Georgia’s twin Jean. 5, 2021, Senate runoff elections. Republicans see him as vulnerable as he seeks a full six-year term representing the battleground state of Georgia.
Walker, who won a Heisman Trophy and helped steer the University of Georgia to a college football national championship four decades ago, jumped into the GOP race to face off against Warnock a year ago, after months of support and encouragement to run for the Senate by Trump, his long-time friend. Thanks to his legendary status among many in Georgia and his immense, favorable name recognition in the Peach State, Walker easily captured the Republican nomination in May over a handful of lesser-known rivals.
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The race between Walker and Warnock is one of a handful across the country that will likely determine if the Democrats retain their razor-thin majority or if the Republicans win back control of the chamber.