U.S. Rep. Braley has some more explaining to do

On Sept. 17, 2012, just seven weeks before the election, Mother Jones released video of a private fundraiser for Mitt Romney in which the Republican presidential candidate said 47 percent of Americans are “dependent upon government” and would vote for Barack Obama “no matter what.”

Not surprisingly, Democrats grabbed ahold of the comment and didn’t let go for the remainder of a campaign Romney ultimately lost.

Last week, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa might be feeling a little like Romney did back then.

On March 25, the America Rising Political Action Committee released a video of a private fundraiser for Braley in which the candidate for U.S. Senate made a comment for which he apologized later the same day.

In talking about the 2014 midterm elections to lawyers at a fundraiser in Texas in January, Braley — himself a lawyer — appeared to take a dig at both farmers and Republican Sen. Charles Grassley.

“If you help me win this race, you may have 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 on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Braley said in the video. “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 next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Hmmm. What should Iowans infer from this remark?

Some of our questions:

Should farmers be insulted? Should Grassley?

Why shouldn’t Grassley’s service of more than 30 years on the Judiciary Committee qualify him for its chairmanship? Does Braley believe all members of the Judiciary Committee must have a law degree? By this logic, shouldn’t the president, the commander in chief, have served in the military?

Finally, what exactly was the larger message Braley sought to convey with the comment?

As we said, Braley apologized “to Sen. Grassley and anyone I may have offended.” In the same statement, he spoke of his “tremendous respect for Iowa farmers.”

He might hope the statement puts an end to this discussion, but the nature of politics tells us he’s wrong.

How much traction does this story have? Time will tell, but like Romney’s “47 percent” comment, we suspect Braley’s remark won’t go away anytime soon and the congressman will spend much more time on the campaign trail responding to accusations and questions about it than he wants.

In short, he’s got some more explaining to do.


— Sioux City (Iowa) Journal