Dole, McCain to campaign for Roberts
© Greg Nash

Facing the reelection fight of his career, Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste Conservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries Juan Williams: Anti-abortion extremism is on the rise MORE (R-Kan.) is getting help from a Kansas legend next week: Bob Dole.

The former senator and Republican presidential nominee will hit the trail for Roberts next week, making stops with him at town halls across the state on Monday and Tuesday, according to the campaign.

ADVERTISEMENT

Their first event is slated to take place in Dodge City, now infamous as the location Roberts claims as his home base, though he actually spends little time there. The revelation that Roberts rents out his Dodge City home and stays with donors when he returns to the state opened the senator up to residency questions that have dogged him throughout his campaign and contributed to his surprising vulnerability in the general election.

That vulnerability is why Republicans are taking no chances with Roberts, sending in prominent figures like Dole to boost his profile and revamping his campaign operation. Dole also reportedly has plans to appear in a television ad for Roberts.

Roberts will also get support next week from Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVeterans group to hand out USS John McCain T-shirts for July 4 on the National Mall Will we ever have another veteran as president? Meghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' MORE (R-Ariz.), who’s scheduled to appear at two campaign events with him on Wednesday and Thursday.

But their visits follow a rough week for Roberts. The Kansas Supreme Court dealt him a blow this week when it ruled in favor of Democrat Chad Taylor’s request to be removed from the ballot, a request that had been blocked by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).

With Taylor off the ballot, and a replacement unlikely, Roberts’s reelection battle becomes much more difficult as he’s locked in a head-to-head fight with independent Greg Orman. Libertarian Randall Batson is not expected to draw many votes.

Most polling has shown Orman to be a stronger challenger for Roberts than Taylor was, and in some surveys Orman was narrowly ahead of the senator in a four-way race. But with Taylor out of the race, Orman surges ahead of the pack, taking 10- and 6-point leads over Roberts in the two most recent polls of the three-way race.

Democrats are cautiously optimistic that Orman could be their ticket to defeating Roberts, but the independent hasn't yet said which party he'd caucus with if control of the Senate comes down to Kansas, leaving an open question over whether national Democrats will engage there. Notably, they haven't ruled it out.