And so it went on the final full day of campaigning for these two men who remain locked in a dead-heat, as the heartland has become home to the nation’s tightest race.
Orman visited three towns Monday where he canvased for votes. (Well, volunteers had already checked homes in advance, ensuring people would be home and OK with the visit). One woman in Wichita asked to take a picture with him. Another man, who said he was passionate about immigration issues, ended up handing Orman a taco burger in a paper bag. While on a porch, a car stopped in the street, honked, and gave Orman a thumbs-up.
Roberts continued appearing Monday before issue-specific groups that have endorsed him as he pressed on about the dire consequences of not electing a Republican on Tuesday, while also speaking about their issues: guns, agriculture, national defense, abortion. “Everywhere I go in Kansas… the complaint is always about regulations,” Roberts said at McGinty’s Machine in Wichita. A phone then started to beep loudly over the factory’s intercom – “I agree,” Roberts told the beeping noise. That same beeping later went off as he talked about the appropriations process in the Senate.
Orman skipped the specifics in the final days of campaigning, staying strictly on-message about general gridlock in Washington. On Sunday, one of the largest events of his campaign, Orman supporters and volunteers danced to Marvin Gaye in a park and chanted his name before he took to the stage and read a hope-and-change style stump speech.
“Because of you, what was once an idealistic and hopeful campaign is now a campaign on the verge of victory,” Orman told the crowd.
The final days have also been characterized by attacks from both campaigns on things like an ad featuring a college football coach and a comment about clown cars. Roberts took time in his final stump speech Monday night to give the play-by-play on Orman's clown car comment.
Later, a man at the Johnson County GOP office asked Roberts to sign a stack of campaign stickers, and a campaign worker gave him an enthusiastic high-five on his exit.
Roberts left his supporters with this on Monday night, roughly 24 hours before the fate of his political career is decided: “You know me. You know Pat Roberts. You know we have worked together and achieved a lot.”
And, yes, both candidates sounded optimistic. In Johnson County, Roberts said that his campaign has “turned the corner,” after having trailed in public polls behind Orman following an ugly primary battle, and that he will emerge victorious Tuesday night. “I suppose everybody thinks that, but I can just feel it. We’re starting to show more strength in the polls.”
Orman, no surprise, feels likewise about his chances: “The vast majority of polls have suggested we’re leading, so we’re going into Tuesday confident.”
Roberts and Orman agree on one other thing, and they’ve said it using nearly the exact same words: “This race is about so much more than me.”