DES MOINES — Democratic challenger Patty Judge tried to sweeten the deal Wednesday for U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley to meet her in four face-to-face debates by playing on his fondness for ice cream and offering to hold the events in parking lots of Dairy Queens in Iowa’s largest media markets.
Judge’s camp said they issued the Dairy Queen debate series challenge after “months of stonewalling and radio silence” by the incumbent Republican’s 2016 re-election campaign.
“Chuck Grassley has been ducking debates and debate negotiations for months, so we decided to sweeten the deal and offer debates on his home turf at Dairy Queen,” said Judge campaign spokesman Sam Roecker in a news release.
“He’s at DQ all the time anyway, so he might as well use the opportunity to talk to Iowans while enjoying ‘you know what,’” Roecker said. “We’ll provide the Blizzards and sundaes if he shows up to explain to Iowans why his commitment to representing Iowa has melted in recent years.”
In a video released Wednesday, Garrison Keillor — creator and former host of A Prairie Home Companion who campaigned with Judge in Iowa last week — offered to moderate a Dairy Queen debate between Judge and Grassley.
Officials with the Grassley campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Judge has called for four debates offered by media sponsors in Des Moines, Davenport, Sioux City, and Cedar Rapids, while the six-term GOP senator has accepted invitations for face-to-face debates from WHO Radio and Iowa Public Television — a lone televised debate that she noted wouldn’t take place until the end of October after many Iowans have already cast their ballots with early voting commencing Thursday.