Iowa Democrats, GOP trade charges of racism, hypocrisy

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Minutes after the Iowa GOP’s top official called Hillary Clinton’s attack on Donald Trump for not distancing himself from a former Ku Klux Klan leader hypocritical, Democrats blasted Republican officeholders for standing with their nominee, who they called racist, sexist and bigoted.

“Hypocrisy comes to my mind,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said Friday afternoon to describe Clinton’s release of a video featuring KKK members and white supremacists supporting Trump’s and saying that Trump is “taking hate groups mainstream.”

On a conference call with reporters, Kaufmann said Democrat “have got to recognize the hypocrisy of her commercials” in light of Clinton’s tribute to the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who joined the KKK because he didn’t want to fight alongside African Americans in the Army. He later renounced his membership, but not before leading a 14-hour filibuster in an unsuccessful effort to stop the 1964 Voting Rights Act.

Kaufmann called Clinton’s attack “as desperate as it is predictable.” Trump’s outreach to minorities that Clinton and Democrats have taken for granted “while offering them embarrassingly little … threatens to resonate with Hillary’s base, and that’s why she’s lashing out.”

He challenged Democratic U.S. Senate challenger Patty Judge to weigh in on Clinton’s comments.

“Does Patty Judge have anything to say about the hypocrisy of the Clinton ads she’s running against Donald Trump?” Kaufman said.

Judge did have something to say — about Trump’s racism and bigotry.

On a conference call organized by Hillary for Iowa, Judge said Trump is the GOP nominee “because of the groundwork Sen. Chuck Grassley laid during the caucus season for Trump.” Grassley introduced Trump at a campaign event — something he did for nearly all of the 17 Republicans presidential hopefuls.

“Since then he has never backed down,” Judge said. “No matter how offensive, how bigoted or hateful Donald Trump’s comments are, Chuck Grassley has stood beside him.”

Fourth District Democratic challenger Kim Weaver also weighed in, connecting Trump and her opponent, Rep. Steve King, “out-trumps Trump in his constant racism and sexism and in his divisive remarks.”

Trump will be in Iowa Saturday for Sen. Joni Ernst’s second annual Roast and Ride and the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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