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Grassley staying out of King-Ernst spat over Trump tweets

Sen. Chuck Grassley answers a question at a town hall meeting at the public library in Anamosa on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.  (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Sen. Chuck Grassley answers a question at a town hall meeting at the public library in Anamosa on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley is staying out of the family feud between Iowa’s other congressional Republicans.

“It’s between them. Not me,” the senior senator said about Rep. Steve King’s criticism of Sen. Joni Ernst’s comments about a social media post by President Donald Trump that many have called racist.

“This isn’t constructive,” Ernst said about the president’s post on Twitter suggesting U.S. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Instead, Ernst said, “we should stay focused on debating the issues and the radical policy agenda they’re pushing,” an apparent reference to the congresswomen. Later, asked whether she thought the tweets were racist, Ernst said, “Yeah, I do.”

King shot back in a tweet: “@SenJoniErnst it’s ‘not constructive’ to advance AOC’s #MobSquad #FakeNews narrative against @realDonaldTrump whose policies have lifted up ALL Americans.”

King repeatedly has faced racism charges and was the subject of an anti-bigotry vote in the House earlier this year. On Tuesday he was one of 187 Republicans who voted against a Democratic resolution condemning Trump’s comments about the four congresswomen of color.

Pressed on the president’s comments, Grassley was reluctant to comment.

“You’re asking me to be a pundit,” he told reporters during his weekly conference call. “I want to spend my time legislating.”

He didn’t have anything to offer beyond a statement he released Tuesday.

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“The American people deserve more civility in their politics,” he said in the statement. “Democratically-elected officials should avoid name-calling and be treated respectfully. That’s true of these members of Congress and that’s true of the president.”

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

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