Late last week, it emerged that when Roberts is in his "home" state, he stays with a donor to whom he pays $300 a month for the privilege; as David Nir put it, Roberts' Kansas residence is "a timeshare in a La-Z-Boy." But how often is he cashing in those recliner privileges? Roberts isn't saying, Byron York (I know) reports:
After the Times piece came out, I posed that question to Roberts' spokeswoman in Washington and his campaign manager in Kansas. Roberts has schedules and records; it wouldn't be too much trouble to see how much he had been in Kansas. His aides said they had begun gathering that information and at one point had six staff members reconstructing Roberts' Kansas visits. They worked Saturday, Sunday, and much of Monday, promising to have the information soon.That's true. Roberts has a primary challenger who would almost certainly try to make any number into a problem for him. But the senator's office refusing to give an answer is not going to make questions stop. Political reporters don't encounter a refusal to answer and say "oh, okay," and go away, at least not when the question is about an inane campaign "scandal." (Questions about things like the NSA are another story, of course.) By refusing to answer, Roberts guarantees that the question will continue to be asked, and gives his opponent a lot of leeway to float dramatic scenarios of his complete absence from the state. Unless this is some kind of rope-a-dope in which he will eventually prove that he's in the state every possible moment the Senate isn't in session, he's just ensured that this question will keep following him around in the most damaging way—and a campaign that thinks renting guest privileges from a donor is the way to avoid being "Lugar'd" is not likely a campaign that has advanced rope-a-dope skills.
And then, late Monday afternoon, Roberts' office got in touch to say they wouldn't be giving out any details of the senator's days in Kansas. "We're not going to release numbers because we're not sure that any number would be acceptable to some of these outside groups," said spokeswoman Sarah Little. "We're worried about what the yardstick is. Who defines how much is enough days in the state?"