Kansas Senate candidate Marshall tours Haskell, defends Trump as ‘law and order’ president

photo by: Conner Mitchell/Journal-World

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Great Bend, speaks with Haskell Indian Nations University President Ronald Graham, left. Marshall toured the university on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.

Roger Marshall is a first-generation college student and, because of the importance of education to him, made it a goal to visit every higher education institution in Kansas after his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016.

On Wednesday, he was finally able to check Haskell Indian Nations University off the list.

“This is a very unique university compared to everything else in Kansas, so I didn’t understand exactly how Haskell University works,” Marshall told the Journal-World. “So I’m trying to unlock these pieces, and since there is a large federal funding component to this — more so than the other Board of Regents schools, I just need to understand it a little bit better.”

Marshall took a shortened tour of the university — due to the COVID-19 pandemic — with new Haskell President Ronald Graham and Graham’s executive assistant, Stephen Prue. Graham, who started at Haskell in May, told Marshall of the plan he had for the institution, which includes gathering funds for an expansion, and his hopes to start an endowment program for Haskell.

Marshall said it was an eye-opening experience, and at one point during the tour he remarked to Graham that he had “learned more Native American history today than I had in a lifetime.”

“Just the history of Haskell,” he said when asked the most meaningful thing he learned. “Before you make decisions about the future, you have to understand the past: where have they been, and that helps me understand where they’re wanting to go. It helps me understand their vision, as well.”

Haskell also serves as an economic driver for the Lawrence community, Marshall said.

“There’s some economic gunpowder there, as well,” he told the Journal-World.

In an interview, Marshall discussed the nationwide protests that have touched every state in America over the past days in response to the killing of George Floyd, a black Minnesota man.

“The murder of George Floyd is a tragedy. Just a horrible tragedy,” Marshall said. “My dad, (a) police chief for 25 years, set the bar really high for his officers. We had a police officer (in Minnesota) who just wasn’t below the bar; he was a criminal.”

“There needs to be justice dealt with swiftly,” he said. “My dad also taught me, though, that two wrongs don’t make a right. I certainly want everybody to have an opportunity to express their constitutional rights and to peacefully protest, but I don’t understand vandalism, looting and rioting.”

In recent days, new polling has shown Marshall as the frontrunner in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by outgoing Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Dodge City. He faces controversial former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, among other candidates, in the Aug. 4 Republican primary.

Should Marshall win the primary, recent polling has shown him with leads of 11 points and 1 point over Democratic candidate Barbara Bollier, a retired anesthesiologist and Kansas state senator from Mission Hills who was formerly a Republican until 2018.

Marshall is also a medical doctor. As a congressman, he has been a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, and he indicated Wednesday that he would continue that support as a senator.

“It seems like no matter what the president does, there’s plenty of criticism for him. But I think the president is a president of law and order, and he certainly is trying to tell the governors to hold (protesters) accountable,” he said, when asked if he agreed with Trump’s tactics in responding to the protests. “We’ve given people too much room to let these riots take hold.”

Marshall also addressed on Wednesday a future COVID-19 stimulus package, which he said he expected to gain traction in July — a much slower process than previous legislation. Liability protections for businesses and colleges that reopen amid the pandemic are one of Republican leaders’ “biggest issues” going forward, Marshall said.

“What Congress needs to be focused on right now is getting their own states safely and responsibly open. Before we start writing more stimulus bills, we need to see where the money we’ve spent lands,” he said. “I want to wait and see where we are a month from now.”


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