Roberts out to show conservative bona fides
By Larry Dreiling
Facing his first serious primary challenge since he ran for Congress in 1980, Sen. Pat Roberts fired a major salvo in the 2014 campaign in an attempt to prove his own conservative credentials before the recent Kansas Farm Bureau convention at Manhattan.
Roberts, who will face Overland Park radiologist Milton Wolf, M.D., in next year’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, quoted everyone from Dwight Eisenhower to John Paul Jones in defense of his voting record.
First, Roberts discussed the farm bill still being negotiated in conference.
“With your help and your guidance we have worked for and fought very hard for a new farm bill and law. Whether we are working against the burdensome regulations that are too difficult to make account of or trying to pass a new farm bill, the folks in this room been first to step up and tell me what exactly is happening in the countryside.
“My experience with the Kansas Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau is that they have never been an organization that sat on the sideline. We are eventually going to pass a farm bill.”
Roberts said the Senate made a “gallant effort” to get a farm bill passed, while an extension expired in September.
“Under the banner of giving you some protection and stability in your planning, I think letting the farm bill expire and then not getting passed by the end of the year is just an egregious thing, “Roberts said. “In some respects we are closer to signing a bill than we were a year ago. But we still have not completed this very important task.”
It was then he went into a denunciation of current federal policy.
“We have always been bootstrap Kansas. We have always said, ‘Thank you, Uncle Sam. I think we can do better by ourselves,’” Roberts said. “We may need help at appropriate times. In disasters, etcetera, of course. We need farm programs that make sense, ag research, certainly. Since we have to feed 9 billion people.
“I sense people are frustrated. You are concerned. And there is a sense of palpable fear that the America that we have known and the America that we’re so proud of and the America that we live in and from which we have prospered with our liberties and our individual freedom like no other nation has ever experienced on the earth that this nation is headed in the wrong direction, that this nation is headed in a different way.
“You call anything you want to: a European Socialist state, or just too much spending, too much regulation, too much big nanny government, and all of it has got people pretty much worn down.”
Roberts then quoted Eisenhower’s statement that “There is nothing wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure.”
“We can change this and get out of the doldrums. It’s easy to get down on Congress, down on government, down on everything with what’s going on and I appreciate that,” Roberts said.
“But I want to read another quote. When asked to surrender to the British warship Serapis, given his ship was on fire, John Paul Jones, on the Bon Homme Richard, said ‘I have not yet begun to fight.’ Three hours later, the British commander surrendered. We are not surrendering to national health insurance or socialized medicine. Period.”
Roberts said the winds of change have been blowing for some time.
“The winds in Congress confound me. The Senate is broken. This is not the same Senate I was elected to in 1996. What’s the answer? It’s about getting off the sidelines and on the playing field.
“Now is not the time to retreat. I urge you to be a partner in government and with that pledge I promise my top priority will be to do all I can for the producer, for what you do for the country and the rest of the world. Stay with it. Stay with it.”
Larry Dreiling can be reached by phone at 785-628-1117 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.