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INDEPENDENCE, KANSAS -- As a parade of Republican surrogates rushes to boost his campaign, embattled Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts appeared Thursday with one of the most famous - and polarizing – of the lineup: Sarah Palin.
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Flipping pancakes by Palin’s side, Roberts labeled the former Alaska governor a "celebrity" and a "true, courageous grassroots Republican."
"Have you ever seen a mama grizzly dressed as a wildcat?" Roberts asked the crowd of Palin, who was wearing a purple Kansas State sweatshirt for the occasion. "You won't stay and kick the field goal, will ya?"
Palin gave a typically fiery speech, calling Roberts a principled conservative and praising him for standing with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the government shutdown.
"He’s one of the few senators fulfilling campaign promises, doing what the American people asked him to do, standing there on the floor with Sen. Ted Cruz to do what they could to get rid of ObamaCare,” Palin told a cheering crowd.
Palin came to Kansas to help Roberts in his suddenly career-threatening race against independent candidate Greg Orman. She's one on a laundry list of Republicans who are coming in to help this month Roberts, including Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and John McCain.
Those surrogates aren’t all united in their messages, though; when Roberts campaigned earlier this week with onetime Republican presidential nominee and former Sen. Bob Dole, the legendary Kansas lawmaker criticized Cruz for his role in the shutdown.
When reporters asked Roberts if he sides with Palin or Dole’s view of the shutdown fight, the incumbent told them: "Both.”
That answer proved a succinct summary of Roberts' challenge over the next six weeks as he fights to keep his seat. He's coming out of a bruising primary battle that forced him to the right--and he needs to motivate core Republicans to come to the polls on Election Day.
But there's a restive streak in the Kansas electorate that's allowed Orman, with his rejection of partisan politics and independent label, to strike a chord.
Roberts says he's simply bridging the gaps in the Republican Party.
"Bob Dole says during his era, he reached across the aisle," Roberts said. "Sarah Palin is a celebrity, she says what's on the mind of many people.'