WICHITA, Kan. — Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules Senate confirms Trump’s pick to lead NASA DOJ denies reports judicial nominee once called illegal immigrants 'maggots' MORE (R-Texas) waded into the Kansas Senate race Thursday, touting beleaguered Republican incumbent Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsGOP senators raise concerns about babies on Senate floor Senate passes resolution allowing Duckworth to bring baby on floor Kill off anti-environmental excesses in the farm bill MORE as the contest’s only true conservative.

The conservative hero's support is crucial as Roberts tries to energize his campaign and ward off a challenge from well-funded independent Greg Orman in a race that could jeopardize the GOP's hopes of winning Senate control. 

Cruz vouched for Roberts despite raising money earlier in the cycle for the Madison Project, a conservative group that supported Roberts’s primary challenger Milton Wolf. Wolf has not yet endorsed Roberts in the general election.

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Cruz, however, offered full-throated support of Roberts as a dependable conservative during a boisterous rally at the Wichita Area Builders Association.

“I’m here in Kansas because I know Pat Roberts. The two years I’ve served in the Senate, over and over again on fight after fight on conservative principles, Pat Roberts has stood up and reported for duty,” he said. 

Cruz noted that when he waged a 21-hour filibuster to protest ObamaCare last year, Roberts was one of only a handful of senators who came to the floor to support him. Roberts, standing next to Cruz behind the podium, reminisced about a Senate attendant reminding him to put on a tie before speaking on the floor in the early hours. 

Cruz said Roberts also joined his opposition to legislation supported by some Republicans such as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to expand gun background checks and his fight against comprehensive immigration reform passed by the Senate.

“When Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJudge rules against Trump administration in teen pregnancy prevention case Parkland student rips Obama for essay on shooting survivors Obama pens Time 100 entry for Parkland survivors MORE responded to the crisis at the border by proposing yet more lawless amnesty, Pat Roberts stood side by side with me fighting to end President Obama’s amnesty,” he said. 

Cruz acknowledged that Roberts emerged this summer from a nasty primary against a challenger backed by several Tea Party groups, but he urged unity.

“That primary is over, and I want to speak to folks who are frustrated with Washington,” he said. “If you’re frustrated with Washington, the answer is not to stay home and keep Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination The Memo: Teens rankle the right with gun activism Dems to party: Go on offense with Trump’s alleged affairs MORE as majority leader.” 

Retiring Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnPension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands Paul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism Republicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks MORE (R-Okla.), also popular among Tea Party voters, joined the event to trumpet Roberts’s fiscal credentials.

“I thank God every day he’s in the Senate,” he said.

The event kicked off a four-day bus tour Roberts will take across Kansas.

Reid, the Senate majority leader from Nevada, was a main talking point at the event, just as he has been throughout the race. Roberts consistently argues that a vote for Orman is a vote for the Democratic majority leader.

The wealthy businessman, who backed Obama in 2008 and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, has declined to say whether he would caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans if elected.

Cruz slammed Orman as a Democrat masquerading as an independent.

“You see a person who’s cut a check to Barack Obama, to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJustice to provide access to Comey memos to GOP lawmakers Justice Dept inspector asks US attorney to consider criminal charges for McCabe: reports 'Homeland' to drop Trump allegories in next season MORE and Harry Reid, who tells you he’s independent,” he said, noting the Senate's two independents, Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders, Warren, O’Rourke inspire patriotic small donor waves Bill Press reflects on Clinton, Sanders and a life in politics Overnight Health Care: GOP pushes stiff work requirements for food stamps | Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss to opioids | Republicans refuse to back vulnerable Dem's opioids bill | Dems offer new public option plan MORE (Vt.) and Angus KingAngus Stanley KingHeitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State Trump checkmates Democrats in sending Pompeo to North Korea Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE (Maine), caucus with Democrats.

He compared Orman to Obama, who ran for president in 2008 as a bipartisan problem-solver who wanted to fix a broken political system in Washington. 

“He called him a candidate pretending not to be a liberal Democrat,” Cruz said.

Orman argues he also gave money to Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) successful 2010 campaign, which stripped Democrats of a 60-seat Senate majority. 

Some conservatives who attended the rally, however, said they would only support Roberts if he received an endorsement from Wolf. 

Ollie Angell, a retired engineer from Wichita, and his wife, Lois, said Roberts would earn their backing only if he adopted Wolf’s position in favor of shutting down the IRS and implementing a consumption tax.

There are signs, still, that other conservatives are beginning to coalesce behind Roberts.

A CNN-ORC poll released Thursday showed Roberts leading Orman by 1 percentage point and winning the lion’s share — 84 percent — of likely Republican voters. 

Chuck Henderson, a charter member of the Flint Hills Tea Party, predicted that most conservatives would swallow their dissatisfaction with Roberts and turn out to vote for him on Election Day.

He said the rationale many conservatives will use to support Roberts “is holding your nose and voting for the one that isn’t a damn Democrat.”

“Make no mistake, Greg Orman is a Democrat,” he added. “We’re not fooled.”

Henderson emphasized that he was voicing his personal opinion and instructed that his group should be referred to as the Flint Hills TEA Party to reflect the acronym: Taxed Enough Already.

“I’m encouraging every conservative in Kansas, every person of faith in Kansas, every Tea Party activist ... to come out and vote for Pat Roberts. Because if we don’t elect Pat Roberts, it makes the odds far too high that Harry Reid remains majority leader,” Cruz told reporters after the rally. 

He said Republicans face a challenge across the country of turning out conservative voters.

“We need to turn out people who are frustrated, and understandably frustrated, with Washington,” he said. “The case that has to be made in the next 26 days to men and women across the country is there is a better way.”