Republican Governor Terry Branstad says Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley’s comments about Senator Chuck Grassley’s ability to lead the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee “will be a huge issue” in the fall campaign.
A video released yesterday shows Braley — who is running fo the U.S. Senate — telling trial lawyers at a January fundraiser in Texas that Grassley is “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.”
“I think it shows his arrogance, that he thinks that only a trial lawyer can be the chair of the Judiciary Committee,” Branstad told reporters Wednesday afternoon after being asked about the incident. “…I’m a lawyer by training, but I’ll tell you I think Senator Grassley has done a phenomenal job of representing this state.”
Branstad was in a private meeting yesterday with Grassley, Braley and the rest of the state’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. Branstad’s wife saw Braley follow Grassley into the hallway outside the meeting to personally apologize to Grassley.
“Grassley didn’t know anything about it until Braley came up to apologize to (Grassley) in the hallway,” Branstad said. “But that was unbelievable for a congressman from Iowa to say that about our outstanding senior senator.”
On Tuesday afternoon Braley issued a written apology to Grassley “and anyone” else he may have offended with his remark. Former Iowa Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, a Democrat from Albia who once served as the state’s Secretary of Agriculture, said today that Braley made an “unfortunate” remark, but Branstad should have tended to his own business.
“Terry Branstad, who is embroiled in a scandal regarding secret deals made with his former employees, had the audacity to speak out on this issue rather than trying to address the issue in front of him,” Judge said.
Braley’s campaign on Wednesday released a series of supportive comments from farmers who back Braley’s bid for the Senate. Judge, a former nurse who farmed with her husband, said Braley’s campaign must now “work harder” at getting that message out to Iowans.
“The good news for Bruce is that he’s got a good record of supporting agriculture, supporting rural Iowa,” Judge says. “He’s been there when he needed to be there for us, all through his time in congress.”
(This story was updated at 6:06 p.m. with additional information)