Bruce Braley Keeps Making Farmer Gaffes

Braley claims to be a farmer in latest attempt to connect with Iowa voters

Bruce Braley / AP
July 8, 2014

Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D., Iowa) Senate campaign is brushing aside criticism of a recent video in which he claimed to be a farmer, the latest in what his Republican opponents call a series of gaffes about Iowa’s most important occupation.

The Des Moines Register published a video on Monday that showed Braley walking in a July 4 parade in Iowa Falls. When an attendee sitting near the parade appears to tell Braley that "we’re farmers," he responds by saying "so am I."

"But so is [Sen. Chuck] Grassley [R., Iowa]," the woman then says. Braley again responds with "so am I."

The Register reported that Braley "is not an active farmer."

"He doesn't own farm land and doesn't earn any farm income, according to his federal financial disclosure reports," the report said. "He doesn't perform or manage any farm operations, campaign aides said today."

Braley’s campaign insists that it was a noisy parade and that he thought the woman said "we’re for farmers."

Campaign spokesman Jeff Giertz told the Register that "Bruce’s actions back up his words," such as his support for the federal farm bill.

Giertz did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment.

Braley’s rhetoric about farmers has become a problem for the Democratic candidate in the farm-heavy state.

His poll numbers fell after a video of his comments at a January fundraiser in Texas surfaced earlier this year. Braley told trial lawyers attending the fundraiser that Grassley, whom he called "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school," could be the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee if Republicans retake the majority in elections this fall.

Many in Iowa, a state with about 90,000 farms, viewed the comments as elitist. Republicans have also accused Braley of being an out-of-touch former trial lawyer who accepts millions in donations from lawyers and law firms and peddles their interests in Congress.

Braley has also committed unforced errors such as misspelling basic Iowa farming terms in a press release and posting a picture of an English fruit farm to his Facebook page rather than an Iowa farm.

Republican candidate Joni Ernst’s campaign pounced on the video of Braley at the parade and claimed it was another example of elitism.

"After previously mocking Iowa farmers while raising campaign contributions in Texas, the arrogance of liberal trial lawyer Bruce Braley reached a new low over the weekend with his astonishing claim that he too is a farmer," said campaign spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel. "The fact is Braley is just another trial-lawyer turned Washington politician and any efforts to claim he is also an Iowa farmer is a flat out lie."

Ernst, a state senator and lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, is now in a dead heat with Braley in the Senate race, according to an average of polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. Ernst gained a slight lead in two polls last month after her win in the GOP primary.

Republicans need six net seats to retake the Senate majority in November.