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Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley has been trying to figure out a way to attack his Democratic opponent, retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken. Results have been mixed.
It’s tough, because Franken has no legislative record to easily dissect, twist and target.
After Franken won the Democratic nomination, Grassley and his allies painted Franken as a “Biden apologist.” President Joe Biden is unpopular, so painting all Democratic candidates as Biden backers makes sense. Still, weak sauce.
Grassley tweeted that Franken wants Iowa “to be more like California,” which is waging a “war on bacon.” How could we ever vote for a candidate who is against bacon? But Grassley cites no evidence Franken supports this stuff. A desperate swing.
Then the GOP pointed to Franken’s anger at seeing a “Let’s Go Brandon F**** Biden” flag flying in Sumner.
“I speak for all veterans, categorically speaking, not for that person. I did not serve my nation for him, or her or whoever lives there. Shame on, shame on your town for that. I was going to stop at your VFW, and I decided to keep on riding,” Franken said, according to Iowa Capitol Dispatch.
Iowa Republicans charged his diatribe disrespects Iowans’ right to free speech and is anti-veteran. It’s also proof of Franken’s enormous “ego.” Republicans argued it showed Franken is afraid to meet with Iowans he disagrees with.
Did Franken overreact? Yes. Similar flags are flying across Iowa and are best ignored. Not everyone in Sumner or rural Iowa agrees with these sentiments. Can he speak for all veterans? No. Franken wrote to Sumner’s mayor about the flag (again, an overreaction) but nothing happened. It seems like the flag-flier got his say, Franken got his say. Free speech remains alive and well.
So Franken needs a First Amendment refresher course. But it’s not as if he is the nominee of a party that wants to ban books and the teaching of accurate history in schools. Grassley is an architect of a Supreme Court that overturned reproductive rights and is poised to erase other rights. Republicans criticizing Franken’s “ego” after pledging allegiance to Donald Trump is richly ironic.
Trump repeatedly disparaged veterans and tried to overturn an American election. Grassley has happily accepted the former president’s endorsement.
As for being afraid to meet with people Franken disagrees with, Republicans have refused to meet with our editorial board for years because they don’t like what we write.
Republicans also sent out a news release purporting to show veterans reacting to Franken’s remarks. They included Republican Iowa U.S. Joni Ernst, an Army veteran, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a Navy vet who also chairs the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, an army veteran who wants to be president.
Just your average veterans.
Cotton once wrote a New York Times op-ed calling on the military to suppress Black Lives Matter protests, speaking of free speech.
Grassley has retweeted reporting from the dubious conservative news outlet Breitbart pointing to Franken’s 2020 comments calling Trump’s border wall “idiotic” and vowing to protect Dreamers, people brought here illegally as young children. The wall is idiotic. Dreamers do deserve protection. Next.
A recent internal campaign poll released by Franken shows him trailing Grassley 49-44. It’s a campaign poll, so take it with a grain of salt.
But, so far, Grassley backers are grabbing at straws, leveling weak charges and protecting F-Biden flags. They seem oddly worried.
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