U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said the Donald Trump campaign asked him to be an adviser on the Republican nominee’s agriculture committee if elected to the White House.
Roberts said Tuesday he was asked while in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention in July.
Roberts was in Manhattan as a part of a state tour that began Monday and held a round table discussion with state agriculture leaders at the Kansas Farm Bureau headquarters. It was closed to the media but Roberts was available at its conclusion.
The 80-year-old Roberts formally endorsed Trump to open the convention in Cleveland.
“You know I’ve been so busy… I said I would support the nominee — I will — of the Republican Party,” Roberts said. “I did go to Cleveland. I made a speech. I was asked by the Trump campaign to be an adviser on his ag committee, which I think that’s a good thing, so we’ve been listing the top items I think Mr. Trump would consider, should he become president.”
But Roberts said his focus is more fixed to the Sunflower State.
“But I’ve been so busy on the various issues affecting the daily lives and pocketbooks of our farmers and ranchers and all Kansans,” he said, shifting the topic. “I’m also on the finance committee that involves taxes, the health committee that involves education, healthcare — we still have a lot of work to do in September. The money for the Zika problem is a classic example. That got mired down in politics.
“So I’ve been really concerned on those issues. I really haven’t had enough time — you know, you watch the news and about half the time I turn it off. At any rate, we’ve been really working hard on behalf of the people of Kansas, so I haven’t had much time to do any politicking with regards to the national scene.”
Roberts also acknowledged last Tuesday’s primary elections, which resulted in a state-wide shift to more moderate Republicans and a rebuke of anyone closely tied to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
“I’m a little worried about all this discussion about trade bills,” he said. “Trade is extremely important factor to all Kansans. I’d like to see a better discussion about trade as opposed to just simply blaming trade and then having some nebulous answer that doesn’t really mean anything.”
The primary also ousted U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp in favor of Roger Marshall, a doctor out of Great Bend. Huelskamp has been a prominent voice in the Tea Party wing of the GOP since he was first elected in the mid-term elections of 2010.
“Of course I paid attention to it,” Roberts said of last week’s primary. “I have a lot of friends in the state legislature. There have been some changes. Obviously the people have spoken and that’s the way it works.
“We have a great Kansas delegation, and we have a new member on the Kansas delegation and I look forward to working with him.”
Roberts began his tour in Kansas City on Monday, where he read to pre-K children at the Children’s Campus of Kansas City. After his meeting in Manhattan, he was off to Elmdale to tour the National Military Family Association and he’ll conclude the day in Alma for the Wabaunsee County Farm Bureau annual meeting.
Roberts said there’s plenty of hurt in the Kansas ag industry.
“These are troubled times for farmers with low prices, declining land values,” he said. “We hope to use every tool that we have in Washington on the Senate Ag Committee and in the farm bill to be of assistance.
“We did a lot of listening (in Manhattan).”
Roberts said these problems are not new.
“We’ve seen this before in agriculture,” he said. “Everybody involved in agriculture will tell you we have up’s and down’s, and it goes in cycles. And right now the world demand for grain — and for that matter, oil and gas — is at an all-time low. There’s a lot of reasons for that, with the value of the dollar, what our competitors are doing, a lot of production overseas, a lot of turmoil in Europe with regards to the refugee problem and terrorism.
“It all sort of adds up, and right now we have simply too much product.”
Finally, Roberts said he’s concerned with recent talk of trade.
“I’m a little worried about all this discussion about trade bills,” he said. “Trade is extremely important factor to all Kansans. I’d like to see a better discussion about trade as opposed to just simply blaming trade and then having some nebulous answer that doesn’t really mean anything.
“I hope we can get to that point.”
Roberts’ tour ends Monday in Wichita, where he will participate in the KIOGA (Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association) annual meeting’s Congressional Panel.