Mike Franken. (RI file photo)

Mike Franken, the Democrat challenging Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s bid for reelection, says politicians owe it to the next generation to do better.

“I now see the political charged environment that now haunts us and it’s the Iowa that I don’t recognize…where you’re not so sure if you’re friends with your neighbor any more,” Franke said Monday afternoon. “People, we cannot have this future. We must have a new dawning…There’s far more things that make us the same…than what separate us.”

Franken is a retired Navy admiral. He suggested it’s hard to imagine the national unity so evident after the 9/11 attacks 21 years ago has largely evaporated.

“We must do better,” Franken said. “We must think about the future of America, not get balled around with the difficulties and the political leadership in Washington, D.C.”

Franken made his comments Monday afternoon on the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair. He drew cheers by reciting New Deal programs like rural electrification that Democrat Franklin Roosevelt promoted and the Great Society programs of the Johnson presidency.

“Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security,” Franken said. “These are basic Democratic principals we are all reliant on today.”

Franken said Democrats have a history of “leaning forward” and Franken pledged to promote things like rejuvenating the nation’s electric grid if he’s elected.

A spokeswoman for Grassley’s campaign said Franken “wants Iowa to be more liberal” and “is out of step and out of touch with Iowans.”