Updated: 4:36 p.m.
While speaking at a fundraiser in Texas, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) called Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) -- who Braley hopes to join in the upper chamber in 2015 -- a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school," according to a video released by the conservative super PAC America Rising. Today is also National Agriculture Day.
In the video Braley, who is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin (D), insinuates that Grassley's former career wasn't the best qualification for the Senate Judiciary Committee, which the ranking Republican could chair if the GOP took over the Senate after the 2014 midterms:
“To put this in stark contrast, if you help me when this race you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for thirty years, in a visible or public way, on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or, you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because, if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
Over the course of his legislative career, Braley has raised $3.5 million from lawyers and law firms. Lawyers and law firms have given Grassley $686,000 over the course of his career, while the agricultural industry has given him $456,000. Grassley studied for a doctorate in political science at the University of Iowa. Braley has a law degree from the University of Iowa law school.
Iowa state senator Joni Ernst, who is running for the Republican nomination for Harkin's seat, immediately called on Braley to apologize, sending out a statement saying, “Bruce Braley thinks the way to suck up to Texas trial lawyers is by bashing Iowa farmers. How out of touch with Iowa can you be? I call on Braley to immediately apologize to Senator Grassley, and every other farmer in Iowa."
According to the Iowa Farm Council, less than 5 percent of Iowa residents farm. Lawyering and farming are also not mutually exclusive -- John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and James Madison all listed both on their résumé. No previous chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was created in 1816, has not practiced law.
Update: Braley on Tuesday afternoon released a statement apologizing to Grassley, saying, “I apologize to Senator Grassley and anyone I may have offended. I respect Senator Grassley and enjoy our working relationship even though we disagree on some issues. But there is a clear choice in this race 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.
He went on to explain his connection to Iowa farmers: "My parents both grew up on Iowa farms during the Great Depression. It deeply influenced who they are and who I am, and gave me a profound appreciation for what farmers do for the world. One of my grandfathers was a charter member of the Iowa Farm Bureau. I grew up in rural Iowa, doing farm jobs and working a grain elevator. I have tremendous respect for Iowa farmers and appreciate how important they are to our state, and I’m grateful to have the support of hundreds of farmers across Iowa."