If there’s one thing that candidates should have learned from the 2012 election season, it’s to watch what they say in closed-door fundraisers. One Iowa Democrat apparently didn’t get the memo.
While attempting to court a group of lawyers at a South Texas fundraiser, Rep. Bruce Braley took a swipe at Sen. Chuck Grassley by warning of a possible Republican Senate majority after the midterms.
“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,” Braley said in a video released by the conservative America Rising PAC. “Because, if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
Grassley is the ranking member of that committee. Braley, who practiced law before joining the House, told the crowd he would be someone on the Senate Judiciary Committee with “your background, your experience, your voice, someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years.”
The video may have been recorded without Braley’s knowledge, similar to Mitt Romney’s now-infamous “47 percent” video that may have in part cost him some voters in the last presidential election. And it could have a similar effect in this election for Braley.
Braley is seen as the de facto Democratic nominee in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat who held his seat since 1985. His unchallenged primary is in stark contrast to the Republican race that has become one of the messiest in the country.
Despite Iowa’s centrist tendencies, Braley is heavily favored to win, and wasn’t considered a major pickup opportunity for Republicans. That may change now, thanks to this video.
After the video was released, Braley released an apology in a statement.
“I apologize to Senator Grassley and anyone I may have offended,” Braley said in a statement to National Journal. “I respect Senator Grassley and enjoy our working relationship even though we disagree on some issues.”
Braley made a point to mention farmers in the rest of his statement, citing his family ties to farming and saying the work he has done “hand in hand with Iowa farmers” has helped “grow Iowa’s farm economy and create good paying Iowa farm jobs.”
He continues: “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.”