Campaign Almanac: Chuck Grassley and Mike Franken trade blows over new ad | Local News


Gazette-Lee Des Moines Office

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, released a digital ad this week accusing Democratic opponent Mike Franken, a retired Navy admiral, of lying to senior officers while in the military.

The 30-second spot says Franken “intentionally (gave) his senior officers false information.”

The ad features a short video of Franken talking about being asked to estimate the costs of a military operation.

“Admittedly, I inflated the cost of that. A little bloated,” he says.

In a longer clip of related remarks by Grassley campaign spokeswoman Michaela Sundermann before the ad aired, Franken is shown speaking about military operations in the African country of Burundi during a time of internal conflict . He said that he had been told: “Franken, you have to do something in Burundi”. Franken did not specify whether this request came from a commander.

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He said he offered to provide troops to secure the country’s capital airport and the US embassy for 30 days. He then said he inflated the estimate because he feared the United States would not be able to withdraw the troops after that time.

“Because I was worried that once we got in, we’d never get out,” Franken said in the video. “And I will go to my grave saying, indeed, if we had put 5,000 troops in Burundi today, we would be wondering if 12,000 would be enough.”

“Sen. Grassley’s ridiculous attacks on Mike Franken reveal the game: he’s scared,” Franken campaign spokesman CJ Petersen said in an emailed statement. “While Mike Franken was captain of the USS Winston Churchill, Chuck Grassley was fighting to stop Medicare from lowering prescription drug prices.”

The provided video indicates that the remarks took place in September 2019 when Franken was campaigning in the Iowa Democratic primary for the US Senate.

HINSON, MATHIS TO DEBATE: Iowa PBS will host a statewide televised debate between the candidates vying for the United States House seat from eastern Iowa’s 2nd congressional district.

The “Iowa Press” debate between Republican U.S. Representative from Iowa Ashley Hinson de Marion and Democratic challenger Liz Mathis, a state senator from Hiawatha, will be televised live at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18, according to Iowa PBS.

The hour-long debate will be broadcast live on Iowa’s PBS statewide and streamed on, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

“Iowa Press” host Kay Henderson will moderate the debate with a panel of Iowa political reporters posing questions to the candidates, according to a news release. There will be no studio hearing during the debate.

THE AGRICULTURAL BUREAU APPROVES: The Iowa Farm Bureau Political Action Committee nominated U.S. Senator from Iowa Chuck Grassley, Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, and U.S. Representative from Iowa Ashley Hinson as “friend of agriculture” for the 2022 general election.

The Republican incumbents seeking re-election Nov. 8 were endorsed based on support for Farm Bureau policies and their “commitment to farm families and Iowa’s farm economy,” according to a news release.

“With one in five Iowans employed in agriculture and agriculture-related industries, we need to elect Friend of Agriculture candidates who will continue to be champions for agriculture and working families across the country. Iowa who make a living feeding and feeding the world,” Boone Kriss Haglund, county farmer and chairman of the Farm Bureau PAC, said in a statement.

FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT FROM HINSON: U.S. Representative from Iowa Ashley Hinson touts her support for veterans in her first TV ad of the election cycle.

Republican Marion will launch her first TV ad of the cycle on Tuesday, part of an expected ad buy of more than $2 million by Election Day Nov. 8.

The ad features Sgt. Trent Dirks, a veteran who credits Hinson for his work advocating for legislation to expand access to mental health care services for veterans in rural areas.

President Joe Biden in June signed Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act. Legislation was named for Sgt. Brandon Ketchum, a Davenport veteran who battled post-traumatic stress disorder and died by suicide in 2016 after being denied psychiatric care while inpatient at the Iowa City Veterans Medical Center.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic U.S. Representative from Iowa, Cindy Axne of West Des Moines and co-sponsored by Hinson and fellow U.S. Republicans from Iowa, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa and Randy Feenstra of Hull.

“Veterans should always get the care they need, regardless of their zip code,” Hinson tweeted of the announcement and “work across the aisle to help expand services for mental health care for veterinarians in rural areas”.

Democratic challenger Liz Mathis, state senator from Hiawatha, began airing television ads last month. Mathis, in the ad, calls out Washington politicians from both parties, saying Republicans need to stop the culture wars and Democrats need to cut costs for families.


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