By Dave Andrusko
Every observer will come away from the wide-ranging debate between pro-life Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and “independent” challenger Greg Orman with a different scorecard. But for single-issue pro-lifers, we couldn’t be happier with the results of Wednesday night’s debate sponsored by Kansas newspapers and television stations.
We knew—and surely almost all Kansans knew—that Sen. Roberts is staunchly pro-life. But far fewer, perhaps, were sure where Orman came down. His answer clarified the stark difference between the two men: “I’m pro-choice.”
There is a reason the lead Orman momentarily had over Sen. Roberts has evaporated: clarity. Beginning with abortion.
If you watched the debate, the different attitudes were almost as instructive as the words themselves.
As Kathy Ostrowski explained on Thursday, Orman danced around the one question directed to abortion (with the usual “how-can-I-as-a-man?” dodge) before completing the evasion with an “I trust the women of Kansas” flourish.
After acknowledging that “I’m pro-choice,” Orman talked about how abortion diverts attention from more “important” issues, adding that abortion was “settled law” anyway and that the country needs to move on. As Kathy wrote
Roberts, who stated flatly, “I’m pro-life,” looked at Orman with incredulity, saying that to admonish us to “get past” the rights of the unborn and those at the end of life is “unconscionable.”
In a follow-up rebuttal, Roberts added, “[abortion] isn’t settled, not by a long shot. That’s why I am proud to receive the endorsement from the National Right to Life, and the Kansans for Life. They support me and I’ll tell you one thing, they don’t think we ought to get past this issue.”
The rapid shift in momentum has pro-abortion columnists in a funk, made worse (for them) by the improved numbers for incumbent pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback.
Kathy was kind enough to forward an example from the Kansas City Star newspaper. The headline captures Yael T. Abouhalkah’s near-despair: “Shocking Kansas GOP sweep shaping up for Sam Brownback, Pat Roberts.”
Abouhalkah described re-electing Roberts as a “near disaster” (re-electing Brownback was only “unfortunate”) and then offered reasons why both might well come to pass.
*The improved poll numbers for Roberts and Brownback
* More than 12,000 Republicans have registered since the August 4 primary, while Democrats added fewer than 5,000 to their rolls.
* A host of prominent and well-liked Republicans have come to the state on behalf of Roberts. “The Democrats?” Abouhalkah asks rhetorically. “They have the best-known member of their party sitting in the White House, President Barack Obama, and he’s made exactly zero visits to Kansas.”
Of course! The last thing Orman wants is a man who is hugely unpopular in Kansas. The President’s presence would remind voters yet again that no one believes Orman is genuinely independent; he would doubtless caucus with the Democrats as do the other two Senate “Independents.”
Sen. Roberts clarified that as well. “What this boils down to is: A vote for Pat Roberts is a vote for a Republican majority in the Senate,” Roberts said in his opening statement. “The No. 1 thing is to get a Republican majority in the United States Senate to end the gridlock and stop the Obama-Reid agenda.”
It’s not like Abouhalkah has abandoned all hope. Nor should he. The contest between Roberts and Orman is still within a few percent points either way and—as they say—it’s not over until it’s over.
But this has been a very good two weeks for Sen. Roberts.