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As soon as we heard about Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley's remarks slighting GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley as "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school," we wondered if they'd get used in an attack ad. Two days later, the answer is "yes." A conservative group founded by a couple of former Mitt Romney staffers called Priorities for Iowa says they're spending $250,000 to air an ad featuring Braley's comments. (Braley isn't running against Grassley but rather for Iowa's other Senate seat, left open by Democrat Tom Harkin's retirement.)

The heart of the spot, though, isn't particularly well-executed. The ad bounces back and forth between a narrator trying to provide context and fragments of Braley speaking, with some kind of night-vision filter layered on to make the video footage look like it captured a super-secret event.

Narrator: Bruce Braley is putting Iowa's Senate seat up for sale.

Braley: If you help me win this race...

Narrator: Caught at a closed-door fundraiser with trial lawyers in Texas, Braley says if they don't help him, Chuck Grassley...

Braley: A farmer from Iowa, who never went to law school...

Narrator: Might be the next Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

Republicans are lucky they captured Braley on tape, but they diminish the impact of his own words by splicing it with all this chatter. Braley, though, isn't helping his own case, sending out a press release touting his agriculture cred that was filled with misspellings of common farming terms. It's such a minor thing, but when you're back on your heels like this, you don't want to wind up looking like Harold Ford in a hunting cap.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:16 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Get the Daily Kos Elections Digest in your inbox every weekday. Sign up here.

    by David Nir on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:16:58 AM PDT

  •  Barley seems to be a gaffe-a-thon in training ... (0+ / 0-)

    and he's way too skilled at the nopology too.

    I shouldn't be surprised at any politician who turns out to be a bit too much of an asshole---certainly not when there's an R behind their name---but it probably doesn't bode too well for Barley this early in his career. Especially in Iowa, where it might be assumed that most midwesterners don't warm up all that much to assholes.

    [Then of course, Steve King throws that assumption right out the window ... ]

  •  Is this guy our Akin/Mourdock/McMahon? (0+ / 0-)

    Geezus, man ... wisecracks about farmers v. lawyers?  


  •  Is the nomination already settled? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Someone please tell us there's a better candidate challenging him for the Dem nomination.

  •  Fantastic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The one state where Democrats caught a break in Republican recruitment. Typical GOP out of context BS but still. Disappointing to say the least.

    "What do you mean "conspiracy"? Does that mean it's someone's imaginings and that the actual polls hovered right around the result?" - petral

    by conspiracy on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 11:15:26 AM PDT

  •  He has plenty of time to recover from this gaffe. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, R30A, BoswellSupporter

    He needs to campaign hard and be humble. He's already proven he's up to the task of campaigning -- having visited all of Iowa's counties already. Now, he needs to stick to the issues and listen to what the people have to say to him.

    •  After visiting all the counties & before this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      43north, Kasoru

      video came out, he was tied with three prospective GOP candidates.

      Being tied with a 6 month head start in campaigning & while having the most name recognition against all of those three "whoevers" bodes badly.

      He came out strong for gun control earlier in the year to start getting attention & in short order, gun control mysteriously disappeared from even his website.
      I'm guessing that it didn't play well in--at best--96 of the 99 counties.

      For a fairly experienced candidate, Bruce has already had a rough start & doing his damnedest to convince everybody that he is an elitist douchebag is about the worst thing that could happen.

      This is as bad--if not worse--than Mitt's '47%' comment.

      Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

      by FrankRose on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 07:44:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Braley (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    R30A, KingofSpades, DCCyclone

    We have to remember that Braley has only had one tough general election opponent in his career.  Ben Lange was a hypocrite who simply used talking points about how public sector workers needed to get a real job, when Lange himself had spent most of his career as a Congressional staffer.  The 2010 election was close, but that doesn't mean Lange ran a credible campaign.

     State Senator David Hartsuch, Braley's 2008 opponent was a radical social conservative who actually got defeated in a primary for re-nomination to the State Senate following his quixotic run against Braley.  Hartsuch was so socially conservative I would say that he definitely lost a primary to his left to Roby Smith.  

    His one credible challenger was Mike Whalen, a well known guy who owns restaurants all over the state, involved in a lot of charities and people know him.  

    My point is that Bruce Braley is rusty.  Do I think he will rebound?  Absolutely.  I never thought it was going to be a blowout in Braley's favor.  The Republicans have one candidate that can get votes in Eastern Iowa and I don't think they will end up nominating that individual.  I could also see Joni Ernst beating Braley, but it would take a spectacular performance by her team.  

    IA-2 Born, raised, currently reside.

    by BoswellSupporter on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 12:15:50 PM PDT

    •  I dunno. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BoswellSupporter, Glenn45

      He was tied with three of the GOP candidates before this even came out.

      This is the worst possible way Braley could present himself-- being elitist doesn't play well anywhere; let alone in Iowa while talking shit about farmers.

      Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

      by FrankRose on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 07:48:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's kind of a crummy ad. (0+ / 0-)

    Doesn't have the effect they were going for.

    “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” -The Doctor

    by KingofSpades on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 12:39:18 PM PDT

  •  What an moron of the highest degree. (0+ / 0-)

    Now dems are going to have to put that much more money in to this guys race rather than spending it elsewhere...The Koch brothers are licking their chops knowing as dems we cant compete in the money world.

    Heck of a job Braley....

  •  Ernst is nuts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Matt Whittaker would be the strongest but we all know the GOP. I think it's going to be Marc Jacobs though.

    •  Jacobs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Ernst is on record supporting a gas tax increase and the internet sales tax.  She has the Branstad team behind her.  Matt Whittaker represented a Democratic consulting group that was accused of identity theft and B&E.

      Whittaker was caught saying nice things about the ACA before he entered the race.  He also has a statewide lose on his record.  He admitted he knows very little about agriculture, so he wouldn't be able to exploit one of Braley's soft spots.  I agree on paper he looks good, but he's an empty suit.  

      I think Jacobs is their strongest candidate as long as he avoids Romney comparisons properly.   To tell you the truth I think Sam Clovis has the best shot at their nomination if he's able to paint Jacobs as out of touch.  

      IA-2 Born, raised, currently reside.

      by BoswellSupporter on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 11:04:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Actually not a bad ad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He comes across as condescending towards a large group of people in this state.  Not only that, but he did it in a private meeting out of state, which makes it seem like he has something to hide, and thus makes his remarks seem even more incriminating.  

  •  Has there been any polling since this surfaced? nt (0+ / 0-)
  •   They are called....................... (0+ / 0-)

    "unforced Errors."  We cheer when Rethugs make them (see McConnell, Mitch and Duke) and cringe when Dems do the same.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 07:29:55 PM PDT

  •  The irony is Braley has a point. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    The way it came out sounds terrible and snobbish but there is a lot of truth to what he is saying.  

    If this were a Republican talking about how we don't want some slick New York City lawyer taking over as chair of the Agriculture Committee, no one would even bat an eye.  Not only that, but there would be a fair amount of pressure on Nancy Pelosi to promise that in fact the slick NYC lawyer would not take over as chair of the Agriculture committee and that we would be sure to nominate a southern rural Blue Dog as chair of the Ag committee.  

    He wasn't trying to say that farmers are dumb.  He was trying to say that Grassley doesn't have a professional background in legal issues and would be a poor choice as chair of the Judiciary Committee.  Which he would be.  In the entire history of the Senate Judiciary Committee, there has been, at most, one chair who was not an attorney.  And you have to go back to 1820.  

    •  Yeah but saying basically (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Peace Missile, Matt Z

      "he didn't even go to law school" as an insult in ANY context makes it real easy for this working class Democrat to say "eff that guy" and mean it.

      Someone that publicly shows disdain for those outside of the elite, privileged class is not someone the Democrats should support. That isn't a message that we should tolerate in any way.

  •  But Grassley isn't a Farmer, Anyway (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i saw an old tree today

    He is a career politician, now in his 54th continuous year of having been on the public payroll continuously for 55 years, and counting.

    But Grassley has done very well for himself with his hick schtick.

    Ideology: A set of assumptions so appealing that one looks at their abstract logic rather than at how the world actually works. -Michael Hudson

    by Justus on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 08:00:52 PM PDT

    •  No law school listed (0+ / 0-)

      I just looked up Grassley on Wikipedia and I do not find a law school listed. This does not absolutely prove he did not go to law school. Braley cannot afford to be wrong about a question like this.

      Censorship is rogue government.

      by scott5js on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 09:25:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Grassley himself has said so (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        43north, scott5js

        In his biography in CQ/Roll Call Politics in America, Grassley is quoted as saying, "Because I'm a non-lawyer, when you get to the highly technical legal questions, I don't feel quite as comfortable as I would with almost any subject that I took up at Finance."  

        He does have a master's in political science.  It looks like he may also have started the Ph.D. program in political science but dropped out when he got elected to the Iowa Legislature.

        •  Like being "a lawyer" really matters? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Ask any nine lawyers, and you're likely to get at least two widely divergent opinions.

          Was Frederick Douglass a lawyer?  Was he Harvard-trained in the arts of legal discourse?

          Well, obviously, he couldn't have had much impact on the massive legal issues of persons owned as property.  
          That after all, is the sole province of lawyers.

          “The American people have this to learn: that where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither person nor property is safe.”
          ― Frederick Douglass

      •  Was Braley accurate? (0+ / 0-)

        That was my concern with respect to whether Grassley went to law school.

        Censorship is rogue government.

        by scott5js on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 08:20:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  When former Romney aids run ads (0+ / 0-)

    Its the same as a hit TV show about Zomnies!
    Of course Zomnies still think Romney will win in 2012.

  •  Ha! GOP still butthurt about Romney's taped 47% (0+ / 0-)

    comments from that closed-door fundraiser.... that's the only reason they're doing that "closed-door, night-vision" thing.  Always fun when the opposition is so pissed that they end up garbling their own message.


    But back to un-garbling our own messaging...

    "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

    by dackmont on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 02:23:00 AM PDT

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