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In the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Jim Slattery has tried to pin failures at home and abroad on Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. Through a campaign advertising blitz, Roberts has attacked Slattery's past as a congressman and lobbyist.
On the economic front, Slattery said Roberts was among Republicans and Democrats who supported deregulation legislation in 1999 and 2000 that has led to the present financial crisis.
"As the old adage goes, when you're asleep at the wheel, you drive your car into the ditch. Well, President Bush and Pat Roberts were asleep at the wheel," Slattery said.
Roberts' campaign responded by saying, "Jim Slattery quit working for Kansas so he could cash in at a D.C. firm that lobbied for Freddie Mac."
Slattery, a former U.S. House member who later became a lobbyist, said that was absurd.
"There are more than 100 partners and almost 300 attorneys who work at Riley Wein. It would be ridiculous to hold Jim accountable for all the firm's clients, just like it would be ridiculous to hold Roberts responsible for the actions of every member of Congress," Slattery's campaign said.
On the war in Iraq, Slattery blamed Roberts, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee during the run-up to the war, for failing to discern the now-discredited intelligence used by President Bush, who had said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
"He and his committee got it all wrong on the intel data," Slattery said. Those mistakes, he said, have overstretched the military and strengthened Iran. "There has to be accountability when our political leaders make these terrible mistakes," he said.
But Roberts said everyone was wrong on the intelligence, and it was his committee that brought the errors to light and put reforms in motion.
"Jim, you wouldn't even know about this information unless for the fact that I released it," Roberts said during a debate.
Roberts, 72, who started as a congressional staffer in 1967, was elected to the House in 1980 and the Senate in 1996. Slattery, 60, served in the state Legislature and then the U.S. House from 1983 to 1995. In 1994, he unsuccessfully ran for governor and then lobbied in Washington, D.C.
In a recent development, Slattery said U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, should resign immediately after his conviction on seven felony corruption charges. Roberts refused to call for Stevens' dismissal, saying it's up to the voters in Alaska to decide. Stevens is up for re-election Tuesday.