Sen. Pat Roberts Thursday evening launched a hectic tour of the massive Big First congressional district with an ice cream social in Great Bend in a effort to reach out to the voters who have supported him for decades. The three-term senator is in the midst of a heated re-election battle with Independent challenger Greg Orman.
“The road to a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate runs right through Great Bend, Kan.,” Roberts told the enthusiastic crowd of supporters crammed into the meeting room at the Great Bend Front Door facility. There were plenty of hand shaking, hugs, cheers and applause in an event that was also part pep rally.
“America is at a crossroads,” he said. “Right now it is up to Kansas.”
This campaign is about than just his re-election, he said. It has taken on national significance, and there were even foreign journalists covering the visit.
Roberts called himself a proven conservative. Orman, he said, is a liberal Democrat disguised as an Independent.
“A vote for Greg Orman is just another vote for Harry Reid and Barack Obama’s liberal agenda,” he said. “He’s not shooting straight with Kansans.”
Roberts also vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), stop amnesty for illegal aliens, push for the Keystone Pipeline and energy independence, rein in spending and cut taxes. He also vowed to restore the Constitution and fight for the first and second amendments (free speech and the right to bear arms).
He also took issue with Obama’s foreign policy, particularly in regards to battling the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). “What is victory?” he asked, adding that Congress should have a say in any act of war.
“Let’s get our American back,” he said. This received a jubilant ovation.
The Great Bend visit marked the first stop on a bus tour that concludes Saturday and will include breakfasts, lunches and rallies. Other stops along the way are Dodge City, Liberal, Garden City, Goodland, Colby, Hays and Russell.
He related stories of past visits to Great Bend and dealings with local officials. Among them was the city’s flood control project.
“There’s not much time and we have a lot to do,” said J. Basil Dannebohm in his welcoming of Roberts. Dannebohm, director of the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce, is a candidate for the 113th Kansas House seat.
Washington, D.C., is broken and Roberts can fix it, Dannebohm said. “We need experience.”
We also need a conservative, Dannebohm said.
“The whole country is looking at Kansas,” said Sen. Mitch Holmes (R-St. John) as he welcomed Roberts. “He’s a fourth-generation Kansan. He’s a Kansas boy and he’s with us.”
“The Big First is home for Senator Roberts,” said Corry Bliss, Roberts for Senate campaign manager. “Greg Orman doesn’t share our western Kansas values or know the first thing about agriculture.
Voters in the Big First have the power to stop Orman who Roberts dubs “Harry Reid and Barack Obama’s handpicked liberal candidate.”
With less that two weeks until the Tuesday, Nov. 4, general election, Roberts views this swing as a chance to energize his base. “We need to be sure everyone gets out and votes for Pat Roberts,” Bliss said.
“A vote for Pat is a vote for a Republican majority - and a vote for Greg Orman is a vote to hand over the keys to the future of Kansas and America to Harry Reid and Barack Obama,” Bliss said.
For 16 years, Roberts represented the Big First District, including his home of Dodge City, in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1996, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He is currently serving his third term.
Roberts is a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and in the last Congress, he served as the ranking member. He is also a member of the Senate Finance Committee, has served as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and is a ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee.
Roberts was born in Topeka in 1936, graduated from Holton High School and went on to earn his journalism degree from Kansas State University.
Roberts served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years, then worked as a reporter and editor for several Arizona newspapers. He joined the staff of Kansas’ U.S. Senator Frank Carlson in 1967. In 1969, Roberts became administrative assistant to First District U.S. Congressman Keith Sebelius. Roberts was elected to Congress in 1980.
He and his wife, Franki, have three grown children – David, Ashleigh and Anne-Wesley, and five grandchildren.
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