WICHITA, Kan. — Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions Advocates see pilot program to address inequalities from highways as crucial first step Ted Cruz ribs Newsom over vacation in Mexico: 'Cancun is much nicer than Cabo' MORE (R-Texas) waded into the Kansas Senate race Thursday, touting beleaguered Republican incumbent Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Bob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm 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 Obama 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 ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaStephen Sondheim, legendary Broadway songwriter, dies at 91 With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE’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 ReidVoters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama Mellman: Are independents really so independent? MORE as majority leader.” 

Retiring Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnBiden and AOC's reckless spending plans are a threat to the planet NSF funding choice: Move forward or fall behind DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office 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 ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE and Harry Reid, who tells you he’s independent,” he said, noting the Senate's two independents, Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions BBB threatens the role of parents in raising — and educating — children MORE (Vt.) and Angus KingAngus KingAmazon, Facebook, other large firms would pay more under proposed minimum tax, Warren's office says Senators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices 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.”