Senator Joni Ernst is hosting her “Roast and Ride” fundraiser tomorrow — an event that has become among the largest gatherings for Iowa Republicans — and fellow GOP Senator Chuck Grassley will be among the speakers.

Polls suggest Grassley’s in his toughest campaign since 1980 and Republican strategist Eric Woolson says the value of the Roast and Ride is that it will attract GOP voters from all across the state.

“As important as attracting people is that it energizes them,” Woolson says, “and so Grassley, having that opportunity to piggyback off a big event like that, is important to his campaign and it’s important that he gets his message out there to Iowa Republicans, to the base.”

Woolson was a spokesman for Grassley’s 2010 campaign, when Grassley won re-election by a 30 point margin.

Grassley has appeared at events organized through his senate office, but the Grassley campaign’s first rally of its own is scheduled for next Wednesday in West Des Moines. Grassley spoke at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s fundraiser in September and at Governor Kim Reynolds’ Harvest Festival fundraiser earlier this month.

Ernst held her first “Roast and Ride” fundraiser in 2015. Back then, Ernst said she intended it to showcase GOP candidates in the same way Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry had for Democrats. Ernst says tomorrow Republican activists will get a chance to see Grassley, as well as Governor Kim Reynolds and three GOP congressional candidates.

“To me it’s worth its weight in gold when you can be at an event, really see the body language of someone speaking in front of you, and then hopefully have the opportunity to mingle with them, too, and maybe ask them a question off line or just to see them in action, how they communication and get along with others,” Ernst says. “I just think it’s a great opportunity in such a low key, friendly atmosphere.”

The speaking program is scheduled to start around noon at the state fairgrounds, but before that Ernst is hosting two other events. There’ll be a mid-morning motorcycle ride and an early morning “Ruck March.” It’s a fast-paced walk, with participants carrying a backpack. In the military, a “ruck march” typically has soldiers covering rugged terrain and carrying packs weighing at least 45 pounds. The ruck march will be held on the state fairgrounds. Funds raised from the march and the motorcycle ride will be donated to the Corporal Daegan Page Foundation.

Radio Iowa