After receiving word Sen. Pat Roberts would appear at a College Republicans meeting, the group heard from his assistant an hour before the event that the senator had to cancel. Instead, Roberts sent two campaign staffers and his daughter Ashley Black to speak.
Black said Roberts, a K-State alumna, still followed K-State football. The Roberts campaign plans to hold a tailgate before the game with Texas Tech Saturday.
Roberts is currently involved in a nationally watched senate race that could decide if Republicans will take control of both chambers of Congress. Since Democrat Chad Taylor dropped from consideration, Roberts and independent candidate, Greg Orman, are now involved in a tight race for the seat.
The most recent poll from the Democratic Public Policy Polling, released Sept. 16, showed Orman leading the incumbent Roberts 41 to 34 percent. Orman received a boost in polling numbers after Taylor dropped out of the race.
Roberts has brought in Republican heavy hitters such as former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Bob Dole to help campaign for him. If Roberts loses, it would be the first time since 1932 Kansas sends a non-Republican senator to Washington.
Black then appealed to the group, asking them to get more involved.
“It’s (the race) very close,” she said. “This isn’t an election where you can sit on the sidelines.”
Black briefly spoke about Orman, painting him as a hidden Democrat who supports President Obama. Though Orman did vote for Obama in 2008, he threw his support behind Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election according to an article by George Will in the Washington Post entitled “Staking the Senate on Kansas?”
“In Kansas, we have a candidate who’s selling us the same bill of goods,” Black said. “He says he’s an independent and yet he voted for Obama and he’s given money to (U.S. Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, (former Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton – a lot of Democrat leadership.”
Black opened the floor for questions and comments from the audience. Students brought up concerns over a number of issues, including education, health care, the national deficit and the National Security Agency spying on Americans.
In September, the Army announced that 500 troops from Fort Riley would deploy to Iraq to help assist Iraqi troops fight the Islamic state terror group. When asked about Roberts’ stance regarding the deployment of troops to Iraq, Black offered a nonspecific answer.
“I think he was really concerned,” she said. “No one would deny it’s a critical national issue. I think what he’s concerned about is that the mission isn’t clear. What is the broader strategy? That’s something the president hasn’t made clear.”
Much of the discussion focused on college students who do not get involved with voting. College Republican president and junior in political science, Nick Strecker said it’s up to college students to set things right.
“Now is the time,” Strecker said. “I really feel like it’s our generation that will fix things.”