By MIKE CORN
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts got a bit of a boost Thursday in his re-election bid when his fellow senator and former Hays resident Jerry Moran stopped by a town hall meeting.
Attendance at the meeting was relatively sparse, with fewer than 30 showing up at the start of the meeting. The audience didn't grow much by the time Moran arrived or the meeting ended.
Moran was only at the meeting for approximately 10 minutes, just in from Denver where he was politicking for other Republicans in a bid to regain control of the U.S. Senate.
His message on Roberts's behalf was similar, urging Ellis County voters -- Democrats as well as Republicans -- to support his colleague in what has been perhaps one of the hardest campaigns for the state's senior senator.
He joined Roberts in a mantra of blaming Democrats -- especially Senate President Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. -- for preventing any action in the U.S. Senate.
Moran said he and Roberts likely would have enough votes to roll back action on listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species and halting an Environmental Protection Agency proposal concerning waters of the United States.
"Because we might win, the bill the amendment will go on has just been pulled, and we won't vote on it," Moran said.
Moran's frustration was evident, suggesting he's not interested in being in the Senate if nothing can be done.
"Excuse me for my soapbox," he said. "This is not about Jerry Moran the Republican. It's about Jerry Moran the American."
Roberts picked up the lead from Moran and pointed to Reid as the cause for a lack of action in the Senate.
"I hate to pick on Harry," Roberts said. "Harry is Harry. The man is dangerous. He's not the man I used to know."
The push for Republicans to regain control of the Senate was the driving message of the hour-long meeting.
At the outset of the meeting, Roberts railed against much of what is happening in the world today, notably the crisis in the Mideast.
But he also voiced concern about conditions in the United States, with overregulation and dealing with an influx of migrants crossing the border.
He also voiced concern about the Senate's return to session Sept. 8, especially noting the first vote is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. He'll speak on the bill an hour before the vote.
"I'm allowed five minutes," he said of a bill that reportedly alters the First Amendment by letting Congress determine what is reasonable as far as free speech is concerned.
"Changing the First Amendment is not what we should be doing," he said. "It is outlandish."
The bill actually proposes an amendment letting Congress "set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections."
Roberts also strongly complained about the Environmental Protection Agency, and its recently proposed Waters of the United States, a measure that has brought strong objections from farm groups.
He said the EPA operates as an independent agency, but when asked who gave that authority, Roberts quickly blamed the executive branch of the government.
Roberts is battling to retain his Senate seat in November's general election against Democrat Chad Taylor, Independent Greg Orman and Libertarian Randall Batson.