Five days ago the New York Times’ roving political correspondent Jonathan Martin reported from Kansas on the hitherto unknown weakness of Sen. Pat Roberts. The senior senator, who won Bob Dole’s old seat in 1996, did “not have a home of his own in Kansas,” and his voting address was actually a friend's home at a country club.
“Across town at the Inn Pancake House on Wyatt Earp Boulevard,” wrote Martin, “breakfast regulars say the Republican senator is a virtual stranger.”
It took a while, but the story has been chewed and digested into an ad from Roberts’ long-shot opponent, Dr. Milton Wolf, a radiologist who won Tea Party fame in 2010 thanks to his familial relationship to the 44th president. (He’s a second cousin of the Obama’s, on the mom’s side.)
Notice how Wolf credits “reports,” and not the feared NYT by name, even when cribbing the “virtual stranger” quote. Notice also the crimes Roberts is accused of—votes for “Kathleen Sebelius, 11 debt limit increases, and Obama’s fiscal cliff tax hike.” When I interviewed Wolf last year, he revealed a strong talent for turning every question back to Roberts’ 2009 vote to put Sebelius atop HHS. Doesn’t matter that Roberts has spent the last four months calling on Sebelius to quit—now, that’s seen as a grab for conservative credibility. Roberts’ office won't say how many days he’s spent in the state, for fear that no number would be high enough to rebut the out-of-touch charge.
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