The U.S. Senate campaigns of independent Greg Orman and Republican incumbent Pat Roberts exchanged a flurry of complaints and accusations Friday, marking tensions built over months and soon to climax on Election Day.
Their volleys came as a new poll showed the candidates virtually tied just days before voters go to the polls.
On Thursday, the Roberts campaign posted a commercial with a videotaped endorsement from Kansas State University head football coach Bill Snyder.
On Friday, K-State president Kirk Schulz told colleagues in an email he had received several inquiries about the commercial. He said the coach was unaware his videotaped comments were “going to be used in such a fashion and was apologetic for the resulting issues.”
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The email also said school officials had asked the Roberts campaign to suspend use of the ad.
Roberts’ campaign officials declined, Schulz said.
The memo’s authenticity was confirmed by David Rintoul, the president of the K-State faculty senate and a named recipient of the document, and the university’s public relations department. Snyder could not be reached for comment.
Roberts spokesman Corry Bliss called the leak of the memo “peculiar.” He said the campaign had not been contacted by the university.
University officials were unavailable to confirm its authenticity Friday night.
In Friday’s edition of K-State Today, a campus publication, Schulz reminded readers that the university does not endorse political candidates.
“Employees do not speak for the university when they endorse candidates,” Schulz wrote. “Employees should also avoid using their university affiliation in any endorsements or statements.”
For its part, the Roberts campaign sought an apology from Orman for a comment the candidate made Friday at a campaign stop.
Earlier that day, Roberts and several Republicans held an event in Kansas City, Kan., that featured several GOP lawmakers, including former senator Bob Dole.
When Orman was asked about the GOP gathering, he called it a “Washington establishment clown car.”
The incumbent demanded that Orman apologize to Dole for suggesting he and the other Republicans were clowns. In a statement, the Orman campaign said the candidate did not intend to slight Dole or anyone else at the rally.
The state GOP committee on Friday wrote the Federal Election Commission to accuse Kansas Democrats of improperly aiding the Orman campaign with yard sign distribution.
A Fox News poll released Friday showed Orman leading Roberts, 44 to 43 percent.