Rep. Bruce Braley on damage control after anti-Grassley comments

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Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democratic candidate of the U.S. Senate, woke up Wednesday to some tough headlines in local newspapers after a video was unearthed in which he warned that if the GOP takes control of the Senate, then Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, “a farmer” who “never who “never went to law school,” would takeover the SenateJudiciary Committee.

“Republicans: Braley disses farmers; Grassley,” reads the top story in the Quad-City Times. The Des Moines Register also ran a story on their front page: “In video, Braley slams Grassley as farmer without a law degree.”

And Mr. Braley’s top rival at the moment, businessman Mark Jacobs, released a radio ad Wednesday that will run statewide.

The 60-second spot includes an audio clip of Mr. Braley’s comments and questions why the congressman would “insult Sen. Grassley and all the hardworking Iowans who make their living off the land?”

“You can learn a lot about politicians by what they say in public, but you can learn even more by what they say in private,” Mr. Jacobs says in the ad.

In the video that surfaced Tuesday, Mr, Braley said, “If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone’s who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years in a visible and public way on the SenateJudiciary 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 SenateJudiciary Committee,” he said. “Because if Democrats lose the majority. Chuck Grassley will be the next chair of the SenateJudiciary Committee.”

Mr. Braley is running for the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, and the comments could come back to haunt him given Mr. Grassley’s overwhelming popularity in the state.

Republicans pounced on the comments, suggesting the private remarks show he is more touch with his “trial lawyer crones” than he is with Iowa farmers.

Mr. Braley apparently made the comments at a January fundraiser in Texas, and released a statement Tuesday apologizing to Mr. Grassley, a political icon in the state, and anyone else who may have been offended by the comments.

He also highlighted his family’s farming roots.

“My parents both grew up on Iowa farms during the Great Depression,” he said. “It deeply influenced who they are and who I am, and gave me a profound appreciation for what farmers do for the world.”

A Quinnipiac University poll released this month showed that Mr. Braley is leading Mr. Jacobs by a 40 percent to 31 percent margin.

Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, State Sen. Joni Ernst and radio host Sam Clovis also are running for the GOP nomination.

The Quinnipiac poll also showed that Iowa voters approve of the job Mr. Grassley is doing in Congress by a 62 percent to 27 percent margin.

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