Independent Kansas Senate candidate Greg Orman sent a 256-word e-mail to former Senate majority leader Bob Dole last Friday, denying that he referred to the Republican luminary as a “clown” last week.
“I want to assure you that this is not true and is not my opinion of you in any way, shape or form,” Orman wrote. “My reference to a ‘clown car’ was commenting on the near-endless number of political supporters of Senator [Pat] Roberts who have piled out of Washington to support him, none of whom I think are clowns. I certainly wasn't calling you - or any of the others supporting Senator Roberts - a ‘clown.’”
Speaking earlier last Friday, Orman derided the stream of GOP surrogates who have come to Kansas to boost Sen. Pat Roberts (R), a three-term incumbent. Political visitors have included Mitt Romney, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “It sort of seems like a Washington establishment clown car to me. Every day a new person comes out of that car,” Orman said.
Dole, 91, shared the email with The Washington Post on Monday. In an interview, he described the e-mail as an “apology,” and said he disagreed with the characterization of it by Orman’s spokesman, who has called Orman’s previously undisclosed note an attempt to set the record straight.
When reached Monday, Orman spokesman Mike Phillips confirmed the text of the email and said, "I think the letter speaks for itself."
The kerfuffle over Orman's quip has become the latest flare-up in a race that was already contentious, with Republicans increasingly nervous about losing a blood-red state. Recent polls show Orman and Roberts effectively tied, with Orman leading the RealClearPolitics polling average by less than 1 percent. (Full email below):
From: Greg Orman
Date: October 31, 2014 at 8:16 PM CDT
To: Bob Dole
Subject: Letter to Senator Dole
Dear Senator Dole,
I'm reaching out to you directly as I understand Pat Roberts' campaign has issued a statement accusing me of calling you (and others) "clowns." I want to assure you that this is not true and is not my opinion of you in any way, shape or form. I have the utmost respect for you, and often speak favorably of your distinguished service to the great state of Kansas and of your ability to forge reasoned, principled and common-ground solutions with Senators from across the political spectrum (it is the skill so desperately missing in Washington today).
The remark the Roberts' campaign is quoting has been deliberately taken out of context. My reference to a "clown car" was commenting on the near-endless number of political supporters of Senator Roberts who have piled out of Washington to support him, none of whom I think are clowns. I certainly wasn't calling you - or any of the others supporting Senator Roberts - a "clown." As you may have noticed during this campaign, I refuse to stoop to character assassinations, have eschewed negative campaigning and will not use rhetoric of that sort. Frankly, that kind of behavior is beneath the office I seek. Sadly, it has not been above Senator Roberts' campaign to do the same as their false and misleading attacks on me further erode the voters' faith in our political system.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you directly about this matter. My personal mobile phone number [redacted].
With highest regards,