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Palin rallies GOP faithful as Sen. Roberts fights for political life

Sarah Palin campaigned with Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts on Thursday, trying to help him fend off an independent challenge that could save the Senate for Democrats.

INDEPENDENCE, Kansas -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin roared into Kansas Thursday, praising Republican Sen. Pat Roberts for standing with Ted Cruz during the government shutdown and declaring that his opponent is liberal, not independent.

Roberts isn’t “wishy washy, like you know who – the other guy,” Palin said, referring to Greg Orman, the businessman who running against Roberts as an Independent. “He’s trying to schnooker you, Kansas!”

Palin was in Kansas to try to boost Roberts’ suddenly career-threatening challenge from Orman, who’s polling neck-and-neck with Roberts after Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the race.

Now, Roberts is looking for help -- any help -- as he mounts a last-ditch campaign to hang on to his job -- even from Palin, a polarizing figure who Roberts called a "celebrity." 

“Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to come and listen to a true, courageous, grassroots Republican,” Roberts told the crowd at an early pancake breakfast here, praising Palin, who wore a purple Kansas State sweatshirt for the occasion.

“Have you ever seen a mama grizzly dressed as a wildcat?” Roberts said to laughter from the crowd. “You won’t stay and kick the field goal, will ya?”

Palin is just one on a laundry list of Republicans who are coming in this month to help Roberts, including Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and John McCain. They come with disparate messages: Roberts campaigned earlier this week with former Republican presidential nominee and legendary Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, who criticized fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for shutting down the government. 

"Sometimes Republicans don't have all the answers, sometimes Democrats don't have all the answers," Dole said earlier this week at an event with Roberts in Dodge City. "I'm a traditional, Republican conservative -- I'm not over far on the right -- some of those guys are so far on the right, they're going to fall out of the Capitol." 

Palin, on the other hand, praised Roberts for voting with Cruz during the shutdown fight.

“He's one of the few senators fulfilling campaign promises, doing what the American people asked him to do, standing there on the floor with Sen. Ted Cruz to do what they could to get rid of Obamacare,” she said to cheers.

Which side is Roberts on?

"Both," he told reporters after the pancake breakfast. "How about that?"

Ben Mayer of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" contributed to this report.