The PJ Tatler

The 'Establishment Clown Car' Flap in Kansas: Did Roberts' Challenger Insult Dole?

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), in danger of losing his seat to Independent Greg Orman, said a dig at the GOP’s “establishment clown car” was a swipe at war hero and former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas).

Dole, 91, campaigned with Roberts over the weekend. “We can’t lose any Republicans, or it’s going to be harder to get the majority,” Dole said. Roberts pointed out that “everybody in the party, virtually from Mitt Romney to Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush to Senator [Ted] Cruz” came out to campaign for his re-election.

Asked about the GOP putting its muscle into the race, Orman said Friday, “It sort of seems like a Washington establishment clown car to me. Every day, a new person comes out of that car.”

Roberts decried the comment as calling Dole a “clown.” Orman accused the senator of “distorting” his words.

“I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for Senator Dole,” Orman said. “I talked at length throughout this campaign about Senator Dole as an example of the kind of senator and the kind of representation we need in Washington, someone who can reach across the aisle, someone who can forge consensus among people who have different ideas and get things done for the American people.”

There’s now disagreement over whether Orman has apologized to Dole.

“The whole incident has just been an indication of how out of touch my opponent is. He has insulted Bob Dole, who’s an American icon and certainly a Kansas icon. Everybody in Kansas, all the veterans groups — I don’t know how he could say something like that,” Roberts told Fox this morning.

“You call Bob Dole a clown, and then you have a lengthy statement that goes into a political diatribe. All he had to do is just apologize to Bob. The latest we hear he indicated in a very strong statement he didn’t apologize to Bob Dole,” he continued.

“…Basically calling Bob Dole a clown and then waiting to apologize or not apologize regardless of what the story is, that’s going to follow him throughout his whole career, regardless if he’s in politics, which he won’t be. But regardless of politics, everybody will think, ‘Well, there’s Greg Orman. Here’s the guy that insulted Bob Dole by calling him a clown and then waiting around and not apologizing.’ That’s outrageous.”

The latest poll out of Kansas shows Orman at 42.5 percent and Roberts at 41.8 percent.

“Greg Orman is not shooting straight with Kansas or, for that matter, now that this is a national race, with the people involved. He is not an independent. He’s a liberal Democrat. The Soros family in Hollywood, they don’t give money to independents. They give them to liberal Democrats — same with the AFL-CIO. We differ completely on the issues. He will caucus with the Democrat majority. A vote for Greg Orman is a vote for Obama,” Roberts said.

“This election is about so much more than just me. We’ve had the full spectrum of the Republican party coming in, endorsing me. They know me. They trust me. But they also know that the road to a Republican majority runs right through Kansas.”

Orman has said he’ll caucus with the majority if he wins a Senate seat.