WICHITA—Pat Roberts needed help, and the cavalry arrived. On Monday, Mitt Romney, Bob Dole, and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin stumped for him. On Tuesday, it was Rand Paul.
"I'm very proud to have virtually every segment of the Republican Party come out and say they're endorsing me because they know me, they trust me," Roberts told National Journal. "That's a very humbling thing."
This star-studded lineup of surrogates from across the GOP spectrum says just how important this contest is to national Republicans. As Roberts says, and he says it a lot, his race could very well decide Senate control for the next two years.
But the contrast between moderate Republicans and base-rallying conservatives coming to Kansas on Roberts' behalf says something else as well: The GOP incumbent is fighting a two-front war to keep his seat. He needs the conservative Republicans who opposed him in the primary to come home, and he also must hold on to the moderate members of his party who might be giving independent candidate Greg Orman a serious look.
It's a tall order for any candidate, and one Roberts' allies say has been a challenge.
The battle has been waged on multiple levels. Publicly, Roberts brings in surrogates from all corners of the Republican Party, all the while relentlessly telling voters that his race is not about him but about Senate control. Behind the scenes, he's reached out to GOP base voters with messages reassuring them he's sufficiently conservative. And of course, Roberts and his allies have been pummeling Orman on TV, putting millions into ads tying him to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.