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Columbus, Georgia

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia said Saturday that his Republican rival Herschel Walker “has trouble with the truth” but did not directly address the recent allegation that Walker once paid for a woman to have an abortion.

“It’s up to Georgia voters. It’s not up to him, it’s not up to me,” Warnock told reporters after a rally here. “We do know that my opponent has trouble with the truth. And we’ll see how all this plays out, but I am focused squarely on the health care needs of my constituents, including reproductive health care.”

The Georgia Senate race has been rocked by an allegation first reported by The Daily Beast that the GOP nominee paid for a woman’s abortion in 2009. The woman told The New York Times that Walker asked her to terminate a second pregnancy two years later but she refused the request and their relationship ended.

CNN has not independently confirmed the woman’s allegation about the abortion or that Walker urged her to terminate a second pregnancy. CNN has reached out to the Walker campaign for comment.

Walker, who said in May he supports a full ban on abortions, with no exceptions, has denied the earlier report from The Daily Beast, calling the allegation a “flat-out lie.”

Pressed by CNN on Saturday whether he believes Walker’s denial, Warnock declined to say.

“What I believe is irrelevant because the people of Georgia will decide,” he said.

Warnock has avoided directly commenting on the allegations since the Daily Beast story broke. At his rallies and in front of reporters, the Georgia Democrat avoids mentioning Walker’s name, referring to him instead as “my opponent.”

The Senate contest between Walker and Warnock, who is seeking a full six-year term, is among the most competitive of the 2022 midterm elections and could be instrumental in deciding control of the evenly divided chamber.

Republican groups have vowed not to abandon Walker, even as the scandal sent his campaign scrambling. Campaign manager Scott Paradise, addressing staff earlier this week, acknowledged that the initial Daily Beast report was a setback, but pointed to Trump’s victory in 2016 – despite the initial backlash to the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which he spoke crudely about groping women – as evidence that Walker remained a viable candidate.

Earlier Friday, Walker’s campaign split from its political director, Taylor Crowe, over suspicions that he was leaking information to the media, two people familiar with the matter told CNN. Crowe did not respond to multiple requests for comment from CNN. It is unclear if there were other factors at play or if the move had any connection to the abortion allegations.

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