The three Democrats who want to be the party nominee who faces-off against Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in November campaigned in Winterset tonight.  It’s the town where Grassley told a crowd in August that they had every right to fear the health care reform plan might give the government authority to “pull the plug on grandma.” 

Roxanne Conlin, a Democrat from Des Moines who is seeking her party’s U.S. Senate nomination, calls that comment embarrassing. “He’s tried to back away from it with offering, I don’t know, six or eight different explanations of why he would say such a thing,” Conlin said. “And I think a lot of people felt that he had betrayed his own image by talking like a radical, right-wing United States senator which he has carefully tried to avoid appearing to be.”

Tom Fiegen, a Democrat from Clarence who also hopes to face Grassley in November, drew a response from the crowd of Madison County Democrats when he talked about that August incident.  “You need a senator who’s an honest broker, not somebody that talks about of both sides of his mouth and Chuck Grassley has been caught on film since last summer saying one thing in this neck of the woods, saying anotherthing  in Washington, D.C.,” Feigen said.  “He just had a letter in The Cedar Rapids Gazette this week saying he never said, ‘pull the plug on grandma.'”

Many in the crowd responded to Feigen’s announcement.  “Please,” one woman said.

“Oh, I was there,” one man said. “I heard it.”

Fiegen responded:  “I know you were.  I know it was on tape, but (Grassley) is trying to rewrite history.” 

Fiegen suggested Grassley has become easy fodder for comedians. “He has embarrassed us.  Look at all YouTube videos.  Look at all The Daily Shows.  Look at all the David Lettermans,” Fiegen said. “I mean, he’s almost become a punch line.” 

This past week Grassley wrote a letter to the editor of The Cedar Rapids Gazette, saying he “never spoke of death panels.”   As for the “pulling the plug on grandma” comment, Grassley said he “gave Iowans information about unintended consequences with government health care programs when they are forced to ration care.”  

Bob Krause, the other candidate in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, also spoke at tonight’s event in Winterset but he did not mention Grassley’s “pull the plug on grandma” comment.

June 8 is the date of the primary election that will decide which of the three candidates will run against Grassley in the general election.