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Bruce Braley Faces Harsh Criticism In Iowa Over Farmer Comments

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Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who is running to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), faced tough local coverage Tuesday after critical comments he made about Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) were made public.

At a January fundraiser in Texas, Braley urged the attorneys present to contribute to his campaign and contrasted his background with Grassley's.

"If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice ... on the Senate Judiciary Committee," Braley said. "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," he continued, referring to Grassley.

Braley's remarks were released Tuesday by America Rising, a conservative political action committee which conducts opposition research on Democrats.

One of the Republican primary field's leading candidates, businessman Mark Jacobs, immediately released a radio ad in an attempt to capitalize on the negative attention focused on Braley.

Both the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times featured the backlash over Braley's comments on their front pages.

Braley apologized to Grassley in person on Tuesday after state Republican Party leaders and a number of Braley's potential Republican general election opponents condemned his remarks.

The representative also posted a statement Tuesday in which he apologized and emphasized that he has farmers in his family.

“I apologize to Sen. Grassley and anyone I may have offended,” Braley wrote. “My parents both grew up on Iowa farms during the Great Depression. It deeply influenced who they are and who I am, and gave me a profound appreciation for what farmers do for the world.”

Grassley, who owns a farm, often notes in Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that he is the only non-lawyer on the panel, which oversees the judicial nominations process.

Braley went to the University of Iowa's law school and worked as a lawyer in private practice before he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006. His race is one of a handful across the country that will determine control of the Senate.

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