WICHITA, Kan. — Greg Orman has been a busy man.
So busy, in fact, that the Kansas independent senate candidate has been unable to read two Republican-backed abortion bills he was asked about last month and indicated he would review before Election Day.
“We haven’t had a chance,” Orman told The Daily Caller when asked Sunday if he had read the bills, which The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack first pressed him on following an Oct. 9 debate.
Orman, a Kansas City-area businessman, is challenging three-term Republican incumbent Pat Roberts.
One of the bills McCormack brought up would prohibit federal funding for abortions. The other would ban abortions past 20 weeks on the grounds that fetuses begin feeling pain at that point in the gestation cycle. Both bills are likely to come up for a vote if Republicans regain control of the Senate.
“We’ve been [busy] campaigning and traveling the state,” Orman told TheDC in an interview at his Wichita campaign offices, where he spoke to about a dozen supporters gearing up for a final push into Tuesday’s election.
“But if [the bills] do come up, one of the things that I’ve always said is that I will read every piece of legislation that comes up, so we’ll absolutely do that,” Orman said.
Orman, who says he is pro-choice, has said that he thinks a partial-birth abortion ban “makes sense” and that he opposes federal funding for abortions. But he has avoided diving into more nuance on the issue, saying that, as a man, he should not tell women what to do with their bodies.
“Any late-term abortion is really something that would have to have a health of the mother exception,” he told TheDC Sunday.
While abortion is no longer the national hot-button issue it once was, the topic has emerged as one that could “tip the scales” in the Kansas race, as The Hill characterized it recently.
The candidates’ differences on the issue came to a head in a debate last month. Orman said he thought there were other more important issues to discuss. The pro-life Roberts pounced, saying that it was “unconscionable” for Orman to seemingly dismiss an issue that is important to Kansas voters.
Roberts has also called Orman another “pro-abortion vote” for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama. Roberts has cited Orman’s past campaign contributions to both as evidence that he is a liberal Democrat rather than an independent.
When The Weekly Standard’s McCormack asked Orman on Oct. 9 about the bills, the candidate said he would read them first and get back to with an answer.
But McCormack reported earlier this week that Orman’s campaign has ignored several follow-up inquiries.
“Would you vote for or against each of those bills?” McCormack asked Orman at the event.
When Orman said he had not read the bills, McCormack pressed on whether he would before the election so that voters will know where he stands.
Orman responded, saying, “once again, we will go ahead, and I try to read every bill before I say whether or not I’d support it, and I’ll read those bills.”
According to McCormack, he submitted follow-up inquiries to the Orman campaign, but had not heard back by Oct. 28.
Orman’s critics say that by avoiding fully discussing his stance on abortion, he is attempting to “run out the clock” before Election Day.
“It is strategically smart for him to obfuscate and for Roberts to call him on it as he has,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the executive director of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, told TheDC.
“Clarity is his enemy on the abortion issue,” Dannenfelser continued. “The truth hurts him politically and should.”
As evidence to back that claim, Dannenfelser pointed to a recent video in which Orman is seen avoiding answering a woman who asked him about his stance on abortion. Orman told the woman to check out his website as he moved quickly down the street.
An Orman campaign spokesman told TheDC on Sunday that with all the traveling, the candidate just hasn’t had time to review the abortion bills, or any others.
“We’ve been living out the car,” Orman joked with his supporters in Wichita, the second of his three Sunday campaign stops.