With just over two weeks to go before Election Day, Democrat Mike Franken called out Chuck Grassley, his Republican opponent for Iowa’s open US Senate seat, on a number of issues during a Monday night event in Waterloo.
Franken, a former US Navy admiral, criticized Grassley for taking corporate donations, his vote against a $35 insulin cap, his vote for a large tax cut for millionaires, and asserted—backed up by strong recent polling—that he would be the first candidate to beat Grassley in an election.
“Winning this election will be the biggest election win in the nation,” Franken said. “And it’s our time.”
It’s not just idle campaign talk: The latest Iowa Poll shows Franken within striking distance of the previously unsinkable, long-serving Grassley, with the two candidates virtually tied when accounting for the margin of error.
“Franken is running a competent campaign and has a shot to defeat the seemingly invincible Chuck Grassley—previously perceived to be invincible,” pollster J. Ann Selzer told the Des Moines Register.
But in a race likely to be heavily contested by election deniers wherever a Democrat wins, Franken also had strong words for Grassley’s seeming embrace of that fringe.
“On the day before January 6 of last year, when he told the press that he—not the Vice President of the United States—would be presiding over the Electoral College votes, what did he mean?” Franken asked a crowd of several dozen at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. “What was he saying about democracy? What was Chuck Grassley thinking?”
It was a pattern, Franken said. And if Grassley were re-elected to the Senate, and if Republicans who back the Big Lie are elected to the majority in Congress, it would spell very bad things for democracy.
“The vast majority of those in the US House on the Republican ticket say that your vote and your vote and your votes don’t count,” Franken said, pointing to audience members. “Imagine that. This is unbelievable. What has happened in America?
“It’s why I’m in this race,” he said, to which an audience member replied, “we’re glad you are,” prompting applause.
But Franken was blunt about the stakes of the election and the Big Lie’s hold on large swaths of the country.
“This won’t change in a single race,” Franken warned. “There’s going to be a tail associated with this. There’s a swirling darkness in there.”
To counter that, he said, “we need strong-willed people to reach across the aisle,” including those who could give Republicans “who are just method-acting” to appeal to the Big Lie base “an opportunity for them to step forward and do what’s right for the nation.”
“We can’t have, in America, a situation where what denigrates one party makes the other one rise,” he said. “That’s just not right. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for us in society.”
Instead, he hoped he could be someone who found compromise in the Senate, which he said was “not a dirty word.” He clarified that there were “some things, (like) when we’re talking about human rights,” where he would not compromise.
“We deserve better than a senator-for-life who votes against our wishes,” Franken said. “We want to be at the table, solving our nation’s challenges—not hobbled by politicians whose votes are bought and paid for even before the bill is written.”
By Amie Rivers
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