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Pat Roberts Threatens Cruz-Style Filibuster Over Guantanamo

Cruz, left, campaigned for Roberts, right, in Wichita. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Cruz, left, campaigned for Roberts, right, in Wichita. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

TOPEKA, Kan. — Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., threatened Friday to hold a Ted Cruz-style filibuster on the Senate floor to prevent President Barack Obama from bringing the prisoners currently held at Guantanamo Bay into the United States.  

Obama is reportedly considering shutting down Guantanamo Bay by executive order, which could potentially mean transferring the prisoners held there on terrorism charges to prisons in the continental U.S. Roberts, whose state is the home of the Leavenworth penitentiary, said he would not abide that.  

“I stopped him once from trying to send a Gitmo terrorist to Leavenworth,” Roberts told supporters on a rainy morning at his campaign headquarters here. “I shall do it again. I shall do it again, and if he tries it, I will shut down the Senate.”  

Speaking to reporters after, Roberts said he was proposing a potential filibuster in the model of Cruz’s 21-plus hours on the Senate floor last year protesting funding Obamacare. “Once you get control of the floor, then you just don’t leave it,” Roberts said. “Ted Cruz did that with regards to Obamacare. If it’s necessary I’ll do it with terrorists.”  

Roberts said he would stay on the floor for “as long as it takes.”  

Roberts in Topeka. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“I don’t know if I can do 21 hours — maybe 22 or 23,” he said. “But I will have help on this. I can see John McCain there, and I can see Lindsey Graham there, and I can see Kelly Ayotte there, and I can see a whole bunch of other people there.”  

The senior senator from Kansas blasted Obama for even suggesting such a thing.  

“What on earth is the man thinking? We have ISIS, we have the world on fire, we’re worried about terrorists coming across the border — that danger according to intelligence sources is very real — and so we’re gonna bring 179 terrorists to the United States? Including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was the godfather of all this? I just think that’s terribly wrongheaded. And the reasons that he cites or that his aides cite in the White House is that it was a campaign promise. That was then, this is now. And now is not the time to bringing 179 terrorists in the United States.”  

In the past two days, Roberts has eagerly touted his connections to Cruz, a conservative superstar who came to the Sunflower State  Thursday to give Roberts his stamp of approval. Cruz talked about how Roberts had stood with him in his own marathon talking session last year. Until this week, polls showed Roberts trailing Orman by five or 10 points, but two polls released earlier this week showed him pulling even.  

The race is rated Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.  

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