Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), a candidate for U.S. Senate, was caught denigrating Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) as just a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” at a Texas fundraiser and apologized to Grassley after the video became popular.
The footage captured by the GOP opposition research group America Rising threatens to undercut the slight lead that Braley, the Democratic Senate candidate, has over his potential GOP challengers to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). Republicans need to gain six seats to get back control of the Senate, and Braley’s remarks may put Iowa more in play for Republicans.
Trial lawyers have donated over $1 million to Braley’s campaign, according to Open Secrets.
Braley says at the fundraiser:
To put this in stark contrast, if you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone’s who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years in a visible and public way on the Senate Judiciary Committee; or you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Those vying for the GOP nomination for Senate quickly slammed his comments as offensive.
Within that field, Mark Jacobs, who has been slammed as a wealthy businessman with a liberal record on issues like cap and trade and common core, leads the field, followed by more conservative candidates like state senator Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and former talk radio show host Sam Clovis. However, nobody has polled near the 35% threshold that will need to be surpassed to avoid a nominating convention.
“Bruce Braley’s ignorant remarks are yet another reminder that he only aims to serve one group: trial lawyers nationwide, not Iowans,” Jacobs said. “To insinuate that someone like Chuck Grassley, who has served this state so honorably, is not fit to be a committee chair because he is a just ‘a farmer from Iowa’ is offensive.”
Ernst called the comments “stunningly offensive,” especially as they were revealed “on a day when we here in Iowa are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Iowa’s own Norman Borlaug’s birth, and on National Agriculture Day itself.”
“Bruce Braley thinks the way to suck up to Texas trial lawyers is by bashing Iowa farmers. How out of touch with Iowa can you be? I call on Braley to immediately apologize to Senator Grassley, and every other farmer in Iowa,” she said. “As an Iowa farm girl myself, I find it amusing that Braley thinks what Iowans need is yet another trial lawyer or outside Texas influences… what we need are simply more good old Iowa values.”
Ernst released a commercial that presented her as someone who has literally cut pork and will do so if she gets to Washington.
“I’m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork,” Ernst says in the ad.
David Yepsen, the longtime observer of Iowa’s political scene who was once referred to as the “King of the Iowa caucuses” and is now at the Paul Simon Public Policy institute, told the Des Moines Register, “This is bad for Braley and it will hurt him. Chuck Grassley is a political icon.”
“There are a lot of people who don’t have law degrees,” he said. “It comes off as elitist.”
Watch Braley at the fundraiser via Open Secrets below: