Trump looms large in Kansas GOP debate

Kansas Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate debated Saturday, attempting to outdo each other over their connections to President Trump.

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February 3, 2020 - 10:30 AM

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Hardline conservative Kris Kobach tried Saturday to reassure his fellow Kansas Republicans that if they nominate him for the U.S. Senate, they wouldn’t have to worry that he’d lose to a Democrat again because no one is closer than he is to President Donald Trump in a state that Trump is expected to carry easily.

Trump loomed large during a debate between Kobach and two of the three other leading Republican candidates seeking the Senate nod, with Rep. Roger Marshall, of western Kansas, and state Senate President Susan Wagle, of Wichita, also vowing to be in lock-step with Trump if elected this November.

It was an easy case to make for Kobach, who was the first prominent Kansas politician to back Trump in 2016, who served as vice chairman of a presidential commission on election fraud, and who he says he still advises Trump regularly. However, Kobach lost the 2018 governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly after alienating GOP moderates with his take-no-prisoners style of conservatism and longtime advocacy of tough immigration policies. And many Republicans fear that if Kobach is their nominee for the seat held by retiring four-term Sen. Pat Roberts, Democrats will have an opening to win their first Senate race in Kansas since 1932.

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