U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts said he would vote for Marco Rubio in the upcoming March 5 Kansas Republican caucus.
Speaking at Wednesday’s Agri-Business Council of Wichita luncheon, he praised the U.S. senator from Florida who is running for the Republican Party nomination.
“I know Marco Rubio; I like him,” Roberts said. “When he raised his hand, he was one year younger than JFK. He’s the next generation. He appeals to the next generation.
“He is very facile, he is very smart. He is pragmatic,” Roberts said.
“I think he is correct when he said he could grow the Republican Party; goodness knows, we need to grow. We need to appeal to different segments of society.”
Roberts lamented the state of the Republican primary campaign.
“We have a real opportunity if we can stop tearing ourselves apart,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate. The last debate was remarkable because it wasn’t a debate, especially for one candidate who needs treatment for anger management,” he said in apparent reference to Donald Trump.
Roberts said Trump’s popularity comes from people angry at the Republican “establishment” for not blocking President Obama.
Roberts said he took as a “personal affront” Trump’s statement at Saturday’s Republican debate that President George W. Bush lied about there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Roberts chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into how the Bush administration gathered the intelligence that it used to justify the war.
Roberts described the belief that there were WMDs in Iraq as “a worldwide intelligence failure” rather than a conspiracy by the White House.
He also said he backs the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate in blocking Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
“There are those of us who think the people of the United States should have a say in this,” he said.
If Obama does launch a court nomination fight, Roberts said, he fears it will take up the time and effort needed to enact some of the legislation he is spearheading as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.