Newspaper article Roll Call

In First Debate, Pat Roberts Attacks Harry Reid

Newspaper article Roll Call

In First Debate, Pat Roberts Attacks Harry Reid

Article excerpt

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts is in for a tough battle this fall. But in the Republican's first public appearance with the candidate that has put his re-election in jeopardy, Roberts made clear he's not only running against independent Greg Orman -- he's running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Roberts and Orman faced off in a debate at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, just three days after Democratic nominee Chad Taylor tried to drop out of the race, opening the door for Orman to have a real shot at ousting the senator.

Roberts, who had not seemed to be taking the campaign particularly seriously, turned it on Saturday and came out swinging. He cast Orman, who has not yet said which party he would caucus with if elected, as a vote for Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

"I am the only candidate on this stage that will vote to put Harry Reid out to pasture," Roberts said. "My opponent wants you to believe he's an independent. He is not. He is a liberal Democrat by philosophy. He has given thousands of dollars to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and, listen to this, listen to this, Harry Reid. Now Kansans know better."

Roberts stuck to that message through the whole debate, bringing every single question back to Reid. So much so that Orman cracked, "It's shocking that we didn't hear the name Harry Reid in that," when Roberts chose to mention Obama, instead, in an answer about the 2nd Amendment.

Orman, for his part, tried to thread the needle of attacking both parties.

"I've tried both parties, and, like lots of Kansans, I've been disappointed," he said. He took jabs at everyone - Reid, Obama, Roberts, House Republicans.

But multiple times, Orman was put in the uncomfortable position of starting his answers, "I agree with Senator Roberts ..." - not the ideal choice of words for a candidate trying to draw contrasts.

Orman was less directly confrontational in his attacks on Roberts, and when he did take swings, they did not always land. Roberts has been attacked for living in Virginia since the New York Times reported that he does not own a permanent residence in his home state, and he was asked if residence in one's state was important. …

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