Iowa Republicans are calling on Democratic candidates in Iowa to return any campaign contributions they may have received from 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

It’s part of the fall-out over a statement Kerry made Monday in California. “You know, education, if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can well. If you don’t you get stuck in Iraq.”

Jeff Lamberti, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s third congressional district, says his opponent — Democrat Congressman Leonard Boswell — should give back the money Kerry’s donated and still raising for Boswell’s campaign. “Leonard Boswell should be calling on John Kerry to apologize…and quite frankly, ought to be giving back the east coast special interest money that agrees with John Kerry on this,” Lamberti says. In a statement, Boswell said he’ll “talk” about returning the $1000 he’s gotten from Kerry when Lamberti returns the $100,000 Lamberti’s campaign has gotten from Mark Foley, the Florida congressman who resigned after his lurid instant messages to former House pages were disclosed to the public.

On Tuesday, Kerry said he was trying to make a joke about President Bush and was not referring to U.S. troops in Iraq. Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat who endorsed Kerry’s presidential run in 2004, says it’s time to stop talking about Kerry’s goof, and move on. “If the issue is whether or not John Kerry can tell a joke and tell it well, I could have told you the answer to that question was ‘No’ a week ago,” Vilsack says. “(Kerry) obviously made a mistake and it’s an unfortunate mistake but you know what really is unfortunate is that we’re talking about this instead of the fact that 105 American soldiers lost their lives in Iraq in October in one of the deadliest months in that war.”

Vilsack’s advice to Democratic candidates in 2006 is to talk about charting a new course in Iraq. “The question I think that ought to be answered by politicians running for office at the federal level is ‘What are we going to do about changing the course in Iraq?’ That’s the question and it’s not a laughing or joking matter.”

Republican Senator Charles Grassley says Kerry’s decision not to campaign in public for the remainder of the 2006 campaign is telling. “What speaks louder than anything isn’t his words, but the fact that (Kerry) pulled out and that there are Democratic leaders around the country who know that he’s going to screw up an opportunity that they have to do better in this election and maybe already has,” Grassley says.