Tea-party challenger confronts Roberts in Kansas

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Tea-party challenger Milton Wolf confronts Sen. Pat Roberts
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Tea-party challenger confronts Roberts in Kansas
Milton Wolf, right, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, greets Frances Summers, left, a retired legal secretary from Vassar, Kan., and a Wolf supporter, with a hug, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at an Osage City, Kan., restaurant. Summers says she's upset by television ads from U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts attacking Wolf over his past postings of graphic X-ray images on Facebook. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
In this photo taken Monday, July 14, 2014, Sen. Pat Roberts talks to supporters during a campaign rally for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback in Olathe, Kan. Roberts' re-election campaign had raised nearly $797,000 in cash contributions from April through June compared with tea party challenger Milton Wolf's $341,000. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo taken July 4, 2014, tea party backed US Senate candidate Milton Wolf, talks to a voter before a Independence day parade in Wamego, Kan. Wolf's campaign had raised $341,000 in cash contributions from April through June compared with GOP incumbent Pat Roberts' $797,000. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo taken July 4, 2014, Sen. Pat Roberts waves to the crowd at a Fourth of July parade in Lenexa, Kan. Roberts in facing tea party challenger Milton Wolf in the Republican primary. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo taken July 4, 2014, Milton Wolf, works the crowd at a Fourth of July parade in Wamego, Kan. Wolf has tea party backing in his quest to unseat three-term GOP incumbent Pat Roberts. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo from Monday, June 30, 2014, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts addresses a gathering of local Republicans in Augusta, Kan. Roberts faces a spirited Republican primary challenge from tea party-backed candidate Milton Wolf, who's raised questions about whether Roberts has lost touch with his home state during a long career in Washington. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
In this photo from July 1, 2014, U.S. Senate candidate and Kansas Republican Milton Wolf talks to prospective voters following a town hall meeting at the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene, Kansas. Wolf has tea party backing in his quest to unseat three-term GOP incumbent Pat Roberts. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2013, file photo Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts speaks at a campaign appearance in Overland Park, Kan. Roberts Roberts is widely expected to win the GOP nomination over Milton Wolf, a 43-year-old radiologist and first-time candidate, in the Aug. 5, 2014, primary. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
This photo from Friday, May 2, 2014, shows Milton Wolf, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Kansas, ponders questions from reporters during a news conference in Topeka, Kan. Wolf contends that U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is not truly a Kansas resident and should not be on the ballot for re-election. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
In this photo from Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, right, listens as he's introduced at a campaign rally in Overland Park, Kan., with his wife, Franki, to the far left. As he runs for re-election, Roberts is facing questions about whether he legitimately claim Dodge City, Kan., has his home. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
In this file photo taken July 4, 2014, Milton Wolf, works the crowd at a Fourth of July parade in Wamego, Kan. Kansas' medical board is investigating Wolf's posting of X-ray images of fatal gunshot wounds and other medical injuries on a personal Facebook page. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
In this photo taken July 4, 2014, tea party backed US Senate candidate Milton Wolf, talks to a voter before a Independence day parade in Wamego, Kan. Wolf's campaign had raised $341,000 in cash contributions from April through June compared with GOP incumbent Pat Roberts' $797,000. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo taken July 4, 2014, Milton Wolf, works the crowd at a Fourth of July parade in Wamego, Kan. Wolf has tea party backing in his quest to unseat three-term GOP incumbent Pat Roberts. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo taken July 4, 2014, Sen. Pat Roberts talks to a boy during a Fourth of July parade in Lenexa, Kan. Roberts in facing tea party challenger Milton Wolf in the Republican primary. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) - Tea-party challenger Milton Wolf confronted U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts during a walking tour in eastern Kansas on Wednesday, interrupting the senator's campaign stop to call attention to his refusal to have debates ahead of the Republican primary.

Roberts remains favored to win the Aug. 5 election and a fourth, six-year term in the November general election, but Wolf, a Leawood radiologist, contends he's closing the gap between them. Roberts came to Emporia to talk to small business owners.

The senator said earlier in the campaign that he was willing to have debates while noting that two other, lesser-known candidates also are seeking the GOP nomination. Then Roberts' executive campaign manager said earlier this month that the senator would not debate Wolf because of the challenger's "vague rhetoric and false attacks."

Wolf altered his schedule for a statewide bus tour to come to Emporia. Roberts had a brief meeting at the local chamber of commerce's offices and then, flanked by reporters, aides and about a dozen Wolf supporters, he walked downtown.

Wolf strode up to him at an intersection.

"You've told Kansans - you've given your word - you'd give a debate. You've said it multiple times at multiple places. You tell us that you're tough and tested and trusted," Wolf told Roberts as the group watched. "And I want you to keep your word. I want you to debate."

Roberts broke in, saying, "Milton, this is not the time. We have a regularly scheduled event, a listening tour event. This is not the way to conduct yourself."

Wolf argues that Roberts won't debate him because he's out of touch after a long career in Washington. He's attacked Roberts for owning a Washington-area home while listing his official residence as rented space in the Dodge City home of two supporters.

Roberts told reporters Wednesday that if Wolf won the primary, he could risk losing what has been a safe GOP seat. The senator's campaign is running statewide television ads highlighting news reports about a state medical board investigation of Wolf's past posting of X-ray images of fatal gunshot wounds and serious medical injuries, along with dark-humor commentary, on a now-disabled personal Facebook page in 2010. Wolf apologized in February.

In the street, Wolf pressed Roberts again about debates, and Roberts walked past him and into a downtown candy shop.

"Let a desperate candidate with an immature record and an unethical record pull stunts like this and let Sen. Roberts get down to the business he came here to do, all right?" Roberts spokesman Sean Fitzpatrick told reporters when the senator later resumed walking.

Then Roberts went into Dynamic Discs, a growing business selling equipment and clothing for Frisbee golf, where he took questions from local residents.

Wolf returned to his bus, which pulled out, honking its horn loudly several times as Roberts talked to people inside the store.

Afterward, Brandon Rains, a Wolf supporter from Emporia, said of Roberts, "I don't understand what he is afraid of in having a good, honest, open discussion with an opponent in a primary."

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Online:

Roberts campaign: http://www.robertsforsenate.com/

Wolf campaign: http://www.miltonwolf.com

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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