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Exclusive: After a flurry of announcements over the past two months that he was ineligible to represent Georgia in the Senate, Republican nominee Herschel Walker has pushed back against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and affiliated groups supporting the incumbent senator.

Walker went ahead with his first general election statement of contrast on Thursday In the Peach State Showdown, It’s one of the few races in battleground states that will determine whether the GOP wins back a majority in the chamber in the November midterms.

“I’m used to hard hits. Getting knocked down and getting cheap shots,” the former college football legend and former professional football star said under clips from the top of his gridiron career, which were first shared nationally with Fox News.

Walker then said “So far Warnock and his allies have lied about me, my business and my work with veterans. I can take hits, but that doesn’t change the facts. Warnock votes with Joe Biden 96% of the time. We have high gas prices, open borders and Votes cast by men competing in women’s sports. When Raphael Warnock voted with Joe Biden, he wasn’t with Georgia.”

Here’s what the latest poll shows in Georgia’s Warnock-Walker Senate race

Walker’s campaign is paying Fox News seven figures to drive statewide commercials on TV and digital in Georgia.

Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner who helped lead the University of Georgia to a college football national championship four decades ago, jumped into the GOP race to face Warnock last summer after months of support and encouragement for the former president to run for Senate. Donald Trump, his longtime friend.

Here’s what Herschel Walker said on ‘Fox and Friends’ this week

Thanks to his legendary status among many in Georgia and his enormous, if favorable, name recognition in the Peach State, Walker instantly became the front-runner for the GOP Senate nomination and largely ignored a field of lesser-known primary opponents. He took part in the debates as he focused his campaign on Warnock.

Sen.  Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.
(Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

Walker ended up defeating his opponents in the May primary. But Republican strategists worry Walker is unprepared for the incoming fire he’s now receiving in the general election campaign.

Republicans see Warnock — the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached and who narrowly defeated GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler for the seat a year and a half ago — as very vulnerable as he runs for re-election to a full six-year term.

Warnock aims to make Walker his own worst enemy

But Warnock has dramatically outpaced Walker to date, and the senator’s re-election campaign and affiliated Democratic groups have spent tens of millions over the past two months targeting the GOP nominee. “Strange or false statements.” A TV ad from Warnock’s campaign launched last month highlighted Walker’s past comments that he had a “dry mist” that would “kill any Covid on your body”.

Walker has taken incoming fire over reports that he exaggerated the success of his businesses and academic record, and over a number of personal controversies — from allegations of past abuse and threats against his first wife to identifying children he fathered. A marriage he had never publicly addressed before, despite decades of criticism of absentee fathers.

Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker of Georgia speaks at a campaign rally on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Macon, Georgia.  Photographer: Eliza Novelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker of Georgia speaks at a campaign rally on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Macon, Georgia. Photographer: Eliza Novelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Photographer: Eliza Novelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Every one of Walker’s lies, scandals and outlandish statements proves that he is unprepared to represent the people of Georgia and cannot be trusted to serve in the US Senate,” Georgia Democratic Party spokesman Dan Gottlieb said recently.

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Walker’s new announcement is part of his newly strengthened campaign strategy to take the fight to Warnock, after largely playing defense after the May primary.

The race between the Democratic senator and the GOP challenger is close. Warnock has a three-point 46% to 43% edge over Walker, according to a survey conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 3% of voters polled said they would support Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver and 8% were undecided.