Is Braley Still Reeling from ‘Farmer’ Jab?

by Andrew Johnson

Bruce Braley may still be feeling heat for his comments last month in which he disparaged Senator Chuck Grassley as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” With polls tightening between him and his potential Republican opponents, Braley, a Democrat running to fill retiring Tom Harkin’s seat this fall, apologized again for his comments nearly two weeks later.

“Being a farmer is a great qualification to have to serve in the United States Congress,” he said in interview with Iowa reporters on Thursday. “I made a mistake and good people who listened to my comments — people who I respect and admire — were upset by what I said.”

He explained that comments doubting Grassley’s qualifications to be Senate Judiciary Committee were a matter of him “simply pointing out that we have different life experiences.” “It’s just a simple difference of who we are and where we’ve come from,” he added.

Braley’s effort to make amends comes after polls show the race getting closer after he had previously enjoyed a sizeable lead.

A Quinnipiac poll from the beginning of March showed Braley leading all but one Republican candidate by double digits; businessman Mark Jacobs was closest at 9 percent. But a Rasmussen poll taken from March 24 to 25 finds Jacobs and others within just a few percentage points.

According to the survey, Braley now leads Jacobs 41 percent to 38 percent. In other hypothetical match-ups, his lead has shrunk. His lead over state senator Joni Ernst has gone from 42–29 to 40–37; former U.S. attorney Matthew Whitaker, who trailed Braley 42–30 at the beginning of the month, is now at 40–36.

“We all say things that we later regret,” Braley said in his apology. “This was one of those times for me.” Time will tell if he regrets it more come November.

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