Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Bruce Braley Apologizes to Grassley for ‘Farmer’ Slight

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, apologized for his critical comments of Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, that were posted online Tuesday by a Republican research group.

Speaking at a fundraiser, Braley, who is running for the Hawkeye State’s open Senate seat, said the Senate could end up with “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” before identifying that person as Grassley.

“I apologize to Senator Grassley and anyone I may have offended,” Braley said in a statement released a couple of hours after the video posted. “I respect Senator Grassley and enjoy our working relationship even though we disagree on some issues.”

The Des Moines Register reported that the video was taken by a donor at a Jan. 23 fundraiser in Corpus Christi, Texas, before being released Tuesday by America Rising. Braley also told the assembled donors — presumably lawyers — that he is “someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years in a visible and public way.”

A Grassley spokesperson responded in a statement pointing to Grassley’s years of service and accomplishments on the committee.

“By the logic expressed on this recording a trial lawyer shouldn’t be involved in policy making about agriculture, or energy, or health care,” the spokesperson said, noting that Grassley has served on the committee since first being elected to the Senate in 1980.

“Alongside that, Sen. Grassley’s one of only two working family farmers in the United States Senate, where he brings Iowa common sense to work for ag, anti-trust, transportation, environmental, energy, trade, health care, communications, national security, and tax policy that works for all of America,” the spokesperson added.

Braley is currently favored to hold the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, as the race is rated Leans Democrat by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Republicans face a complicated and crowded primary between state Sen. Joni Ernst, businessman Mark Jacobs, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker and radio host Sam Clovis, among others, which could be decided in a June convention.

Republicans pounced on the video, relating it to Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remark taken by a hidden camera at a fundraiser during the 2012 presidential campaign.

“Once again, trial lawyer Bruce Braley is proving how grossly out of touch he is,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Brook Hougesen said in a statement. “Not only is Bruce Braley no friend to farmers, but no friend to Iowans.”

Beyond his apology to Grassley, Braley highlighted his agricultural roots, including his parents who “both grew up on Iowa farms during the Great Depression.” He also took the opportunity to  highlight the contrast between “Mark Jacobs and my other opponents who support policies that are bad for Iowa farmers, and the work I’ve done hand in hand with Iowa farmers to grow Iowa’s farm economy and create good paying Iowa farm jobs.”


For more on which Republicans might challenge Braley, check out our post on the GOP field.


Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

  • sgthwjack

    Braley is only sorry that he inadvertently allowed his true arrogance to slip out.

  • hesh R

    Another elitist democrat showing their true colors. Iowa vote Republican in Nov.

  • DocinPA

    Q: How do you stop a lawyer from drowning?
    A: Shoot him before he hits the water.

  • Ed Taylor

    Braley said what many Democrats here in DC believe. They believe ‘farmers’ are not their equals. They view farmers or the Midwest in general as backwards serfs.

    This high-brow derision isn’t reserved for only farmers or non-college educated, they believe the same about Midwesterners who attend the ‘wrong’ college. Iowa State, University of Wisconsin, Ohio State, University of Michigan? Forget it.

    The east coast high brows, and the Midwest high brow wannabes on the left believe if you didn’t go to an Ivy League school, well darling…you are uneducated.

    Braley desperately wants to join the east cast high brow club. He believes heaping scorn on those who feed the nation will gain him campaign donations from the high brows he wants to join.

    Iowa can do better than Braley.

  • rene demonteverde

    Yet many Iowans are Democrats. Go figure. Many Democrat liberals look down on people working with their hands. Look at Obama. Never did work
    an honest day of his life. And they look up to him.

  • Ernie Musicman

    Making fun of farmers in Iowa…brilliant. He must have gone to Harvard with the President….you know, the one that has been to almost all 57 states.

  • Armyspouse1988

    To put this in STARK CONTRAST–you’re candidacy is TOAST, Mr. Braley.

  • cirrusclouds

    Garnering support from Texas trial lawyers and highlighting that he is one of them while at the same time dissing Iowa farmers has to be be one of the dumbest mistakes of this election cycle. There is so much fodder from this video for upcoming attack ads. ~ 99% of the lawyers make the rest look bad.

  • Likely_Suspect

    Just run that clip in every Iowa market, Braley will be back-pedaling the whole time or get snarky about the fact that he “apologized” & the matter is closed. Elitist dem caught on camera saying what he really thinks.

  • Mungo+Park

    Farming is the major activity in Iowa. It seems silly to belittle farmers there, but don’t worry, it won’t change much.

    Here in Illinois, corruption is the major activity.* Many of us have been belittling corruption for years, but it hasn’t changed at all.

    *We even export it.

  • u2u2u2

    Uh duh wut he say I just a heyseed farmur I not get it

  • Gino Schafer

    An elitist liberal lawyer deriding a man who came from one of the most noble professions of all, a farmer, in the heart of farm country.

    Talk about dumb. I assume that he has just sunk his chances at getting elected. If not, Iowans deserve what they get.

  • capisce

    If only Grassley had ‘community organizer’ on his resume – his credentials for any office would be unchallenged.

  • Bill Fairweather

    One thing us dumb old farmers know, it’s damn hard to put the horse back into the barn when the barn is on fire. Good luck with your campaign Mr. Trial Lawyer/Idiot.

  • BeevaloBill

    Democrat elitism – its what’s for dinner.

  • hateful1

    And, it back-fired on him. Just another politician.

  • hateful1

    Braley is dead-meat. Iowa can do better

  • INTJ

    A politician from Iowa should know better than to denigrate farmers. And I think many of us outside the Beltway think we’d be better off with more farmers, and fewer lawyers in charge.

  • mattr

    If we put 100 Farmers in the Senate, I bet this country would function a 1000x better than it does currently

  • Samuel Adams

    Can’t walk back an epic pecker dance like that one.

  • mattr

    Or trial lawyer. When I think of admirable professions, trial lawyers are always at the top of my list.

  • Bob_Oscar

    I bet this guy isn’t even a good lawyer.

  • teapartyidiots

    So, you’d rather someone who knows nothing about the law chairing the judiciary committee?

  • Pale Ryder

    Where certain efforts are restricted and new ways of doing things are prohibited, we reach a point where our current knowledge shackles us to the known ways of today.

  • stellarvoyager

    Who cares what some stupid ignorant illiterate rednecks believe? I am tired of ignorant bigots ruling over the rest of the country because their fee-fees are hurt because someone didn’t say they go to church every sunday, or didn’t bend over backwards to pander to the uneducated morons in “middle America”. Oh noes! Someone expects our nation’s leaders to have some actual competence in relevant academic subjects, such as law! Guess what? You go to the Senate to pass laws, not pick corn!

    News flash: Charles Grassley is a petrified fossil who has not accomplished anything of value for the American people in well over a decade, if he ever did. He is the dictionary definition of “dead weight.” It is well past time for our national politics to be done with him. Charles Grassley is the perfect example of what is inflicted upon this nation when voters choose candidates on the basis of superficial and irrelevant crap such as whether you can castrate a hog, and not on qualities that are pertinent to the position!

    Who gives two craps if you can castrate a hog? How does that make you an effective leader, or qualified to legislate for this nation? It doesn’t. It just makes you feel superior because “family values” or some such ridiculousness. So sick of this entitlement mindset on the part of the “perpetually aggrieved victims” of the religious right. Maybe try a science textbook one day — you might actually learn something useful.

  • caveman1313

    so, can only accounts serve on the senate finance committee? business owners on the small business and entrepreneurs committee?

  • caveman1313

    he must not originally be from iowa

  • Benton

    ” 99% of the lawyers make the rest look bad.” Quote of the week, absolutely love it because it is so true. Lawyers= the most parasitic profession on earth.

  • Benton

    WOW Stupid and bigoted, you’re on a roll, Congrates narrow-minded moron of the week.

  • stellarvoyager

    Clearly, the congressman’s remarks were directed at Sen. Grassley, not at farmers in general. But the ever-aggrieved social conservatives see it as a personal attack on THEM. So yeah, go ahead with the ad-hominems on me without addressing any of the points I made.

    Sen. Grassley is not a farmer any more than I am. In fact, I have done more farming in my local community than he has done in the last 3 decades. He is a career politician who came in with exactly zero relevant experience, has not accomplished anything noteworthy in the Senate, and the entire nation is now suffering the decades-long consequences of that decision, of voters valuing fluff over substance. Barack Obama had much more relevant experience than either Sen. Grassley or Jodi Ernst when he was elected.

    Now they act all insulted because the congressman spoke the truth about Sen Grassley. This guy simply said that it helps to have a background in law to be a Senator, a true statement, and his opponent lacks that background, another true statement. I am looking for “elitism” in those statements, and there is none! They are simply factual statements.

    So yeah, go ahead and vote for the hog farmer over the legislator with a background in law, and see how well that works out for the country. Unfortunately for the rest of us who live outside of Iowa, we still have to live with the consequences!

  • paddyomalley

    Yes! Lawyers should be banned from public office. They have done more to damage this country than any segment of society, because they are trained pigs at the trough of untold wealth.

  • paddyomalley

    Joni has served her country, and her state, and has fashioned a decent life. She will make a great Senator for Iowa.

  • paddyomalley

    You’re and your ilk are what’s wrong with the country. Everyone who has values is a redneck to you morons.

  • stellarvoyager

    I won’t suggest that anything is “wrong with” the country. However, people who choose their candidates based on whether they drive around in a pickup truck, or whether you want to have a beer with them, or whether they can castrate a hog are harming this country by not putting much thought into some very important decisions about who governs the country. Those qualities may be of value if you’re looking for a truck driver, a buddy, or a hog farmer, but not a US senator or a president. People voting based on superficial fluff, instead of relevant qualifications, for the highest offices in the land is what is hurting our country!

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