DES MOINES — Democrat Patty Judge on Thursday applauded the courage of an Iowa woman who resigned as leader of a GOP group because she could no longer support Donald Trump and wondered why top Iowa’s elected Republicans aren’t doing the same.
Judge, who is challenging GOP incumbent Chuck Grassley in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race, said believes outrage over Trump’s comments and actions toward women is reaching a tipping point and she doesn’t understand why Republicans aren’t following the lead of people like Melissa Gesing, who resigned as president of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women this week.
The Brooklyn Republican said she could no longer honor the group’s mission to elect all Republicans on the ballot because she could no longer support Trump, who she said promotes “racism, sexism and hate.” On Thursday, the federation announced Gwen Ecklund, of Denison, has replaced Gesing and the organization is unified in its goal of electing all Republicans, including Trump and running mate Mike Pence.
“I applaud her for her courage,” Judge said after speaking to a Des Moines Partnership forum Thursday. “I think more people have to do it. This is not acceptable. I think we’re at a place that I’ve never seen before. It is troubling, very troubling.”
Trump has come under intense criticism, including from his own party, since last week’s reports of a 2005 video on which Trump can be heard making lewd comments about using his celebrity status to grope women.
Judge said Thursday she does not understand why Grassley continues “to stand by him and excuse him” instead of withdrawing his support like a number of other Republicans have done.
“You can’t dismiss this. You can’t excuse that action that lightly,” she said. “We’re just seeing more and more of the same character flaws in that person. Clearly, he’s not suited to be the president of the United States. I think America is understanding that and America will react appropriately.”
Speaking with the Cedar Rapids Gazette’s editorial board Thursday, Grassley asked: “Would anybody ask the Democratic candidates ‘Do you think it’s right for Clinton to lie to mourners at Benghazi, or to lie about the emails, all the stuff that we know she’s lied about.’”
Grassley said he would like to see a presidential campaign based on policy, not personality but the Trump-Clinton race has been just the opposite.
“So he’s looking at what Clinton has to offer based on her record as well as President Barack Obama’s record,” Grassley said. ““I don’t think she a very good job as secretary of state. We’ve got the most-dangerous world we’ve had since World War II. Economic security? We have a flat economy for eight years. Who is she going to appoint to Supreme Court.? I want to focus on the issues.”
During the Des Moines Partnership forum, Judge said she favors free tuition at community colleges and allowing college graduates to refinance their student loan debt at lower interest rates. She also called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a six-year phase in and lifting the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes to keep the system solvent.
Judge — a former state senator, Iowa secretary of agriculture and lieutenant governor — also said she supported a Senate-passed comprehensive immigration bill that would give limited legal status to undocumented immigrants living and working here but would not grant full citizenship or amnesty.
She offered herself as someone with Iowa values who will work to change the culture in Washington so government once again gets thing done for the people. “It’s time to quit with the politics, quit with the gridlock, put that aside and try to fix some of the problems. I think that’s what it’s supposed to be about. It’s about listening and coming to conclusions,” she said.