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Republicans: Braley disses farmers, Grassley
Mar. 26, 2014 12:28 pm
Democratic Senate hopeful Bruce Braley apologized Tuesday for comments at a fundraiser at a Texas law firm in which he said if Republicans took control of the Senate, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school,” would chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Republicans pounced on the remarks, which were contained in a video posted by America Rising, a conservative political action committee.
The group said the video was shot at a fundraiser at a law firm in Corpus Christi. The event was in January.
Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo who is a lawyer, said in the video the 2014 election represented a "stark contrast."
"If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone 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."
Republicans criticized Braley, saying he not only had denigrated Grassley but also farmers. Senate GOP hopeful Mark Jacobs called the remarks offensive.
“Bruce Braley's ignorant remarks are yet another reminder that he only aims to serve one group: trial lawyers nationwide; not Iowans," Jacobs said in a statement shortly after noon.
Within an hour of his statement, a conservative advocacy group in the state, a representative of the Republicans' campaign arm in the U.S. Senate and the re-election campaign for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad had all responded to the comments with emails and social media, criticizing Braley and amplifying his statement.
Joni Ernst, a GOP Senate candidate, 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,” she said.
The campaign arm for the Senate Republicans called it Braley's "47 percent moment," a reference to Mitt Romney's comments during a private fundraiser that 47 percent of the electorate was dependent on the government and not prone to vote for him.
The Braley campaign responded with a statement Tuesday afternoon from the congressman apologizing.
“I apologize to Senator Grassley and anyone I may have offended. I respect Senator Grassley and enjoy our working relationship even though we disagree on some issues," Braley said.
He said his parents had grown up on a farm during the Depression and it shaped who they are and who he is.
He added, however, the Senate race is a contest between GOP rivals such as Jacobs whose policies he said would hurt farmers and the work he's done "hand in hand with Iowa farmers" to help the agricultural economy.
Grassley is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and if Republicans retake the Senate, he would be in line to be the chairman of the committee.
His office responded with a statement lauding the senator's record on the Judiciary Committee on a range of issues from drones to whistle blowers, saying he had brought "Iowa common sense" to his work.
“By the logic expressed on this recording a trial lawyer shouldn't be involved in policy making about agriculture, or energy, or health care," the statement said.
Braley is the only Democrat running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. There are five Republicans seeking the GOP nomination.