Sen. Chuck Grassley gave a stirring, 25-second explanation of why he was accepting former President Donald Trump’s endorsement last night: solely because it would help him politically.
The 88-year-old senator briefly took the stage with Trump before a crowd of thousands of energized Trump fans in Des Moines on Saturday evening.
“I was born at night, but not last night,” Grassley said while standing next to Trump. “So if I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart. I’m smart enough to accept that endorsement.”
Grassley then left the stage.
He was likely referring to a recent Des Moines Register poll that showed Trump with a 91% approval rating among Iowa Republicans. That was actually higher than Grassley’s standing among his own party’s voters in the state—just 81% of Iowa Republican voters view the longtime senator favorably.
Grassley does have a Republican primary challenger in state Sen. Jim Carlin, a Trump-backing, far-right legislator who has echoed Trump’s messaging on elections and other topics since getting into the race. Carlin’s campaign has struggled to get going—he’s raised little money and doesn’t have much public backing from key public officials or major activists.
Still, Trump not endorsing in the race would at the least have caused some political headaches for Grassley in his reelection bid.
Campaign staff for Grassley or possibly the senator himself tried to clean up the comments, tweeting out soon after the event a statement that highlighted policies that Grassley and Trump had worked on together.
Pres Trump & I worked to deliver longest economic expansion in American history. We cut taxes, reshaped fed judiciary, reduced unnecessary regs &enforced border security.
Thank you, Pres Trump, for your endorsement of my work for Iowans Onward to victory in 2022 to save America pic.twitter.com/r5nkrXp1t1
— Grassley Works (@GrassleyWorks) October 10, 2021
It was telling that it was clearly on Grassley’s mind that accepting the endorsement or not was a decision that required at least a little bit of thought, even if the choice was obvious to him. It seems to suggest that there was a conversation at one point of whether Grassley should go all-in with Trump this year (the senator at first said the President bore some responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol), and that Grassley was still thinking about that when he went on stage to ad-lib an acceptance.
Much of the current Iowa Republican Party establishment was around before Trump got onto the political scene. And while the state party and elected officials have turned into one of the most supportive local parties of Trump in the country, there’s skepticism among some Trump activist circles about whether are true believers and if they only do what they need to in order to keep Trump voters happy.
Grassley did read a short speech along with other Republican establishment figures before Trump spoke, in which he kept closer to maintream GOP talking points. The senator noted Trump’s actions on tax cuts, criminal justice reform, the border, ethanol, regulations and the economy before criticizing President Joe Biden’s current policies.
“We had a president that ran on certain promises, and he tried to deliver on those promises, and the fact he did deliver on most of those promises,” Grassley said. “President Trump ran on a platform of making sure that we had strict, constructive, conservative justices on the Supreme Court, and there’s three of them there, and I was happy to chair the committee to get them there.”
The senator drew a loud “No” shout from the crowd when he asked whether or not they were better off now under Biden than they were with Trump, before encouraging the crowd to back Republicans up and down the ticket.
“We’ve got to get control of the House and the Senate in the 2022 elections, and that’s what I’m about. I would appreciate your support in the next election,” Grassley closed with.
As Trump fans were gathering at the state fairgrounds long before the speaking schedule kicked off, Grassley hung out with the party establishment at a tailgate 20 blocks away.
— Grassley Works (@GrassleyWorks) October 9, 2021
by Pat Rynard