The race to replace retiring Democratic senator Tom Harkin of Iowa was considered to have favored the Democrat. At first, Republicans didn't appear to have an obvious candidate, and the state has been trending toward the Democrats for years. But the current GOP nominee, state senator Joni Ernst, has surprised many to become one of the best Senate candidates of the 2014 cycle. Ernst is now tied, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average. It hasn't hurt her that her Democratic opponent, Rep. Bruce Braley, has had one misstep after another.
The Democrat has been hit with charges of elitism and being out of touch since the earliest days of his candidacy, from his infamous disparaging reference to Republican senator Chuck Grassley as "some farmer from Iowa" to reports that he missed Veterans Affairs hearings. It's a theme the Ernst campaign has picked up on, as well. The problem seems to extend to the campaign trail, and as National Journal puts it in a recent story, Braley may have a "Mitt Romney problem" in the Hawkeye State. Here's an excerpt from the Journal's story:
Walking past livestock barns and fried-food stands at the Iowa State Fair, Iowa's Democratic Senate nominee, Bruce Braley, happily recounted his favorite memories of state fairs past, recalling the concerts he's been to spanning decades, and mentioning that his favorite fair food is a "hot beef sundae" (mashed potatoes, beef, gravy, with a cherry tomato on top).
The only problem: He was telling those stories to two D.C. reporters, not to potential Iowa voters. During that entire walk through the fair, Braley spoke almost exclusively to reporters and a small handful of staffers. He rarely stopped to shake hands or meet people.
It was a telling symptom of what's bedeviling Braley's campaign. Once considered a leading Democratic recruit, Braley has feverishly been fending off a perception that he's elitist and out of touch with regular Iowa voters.
Now, Iowa Republicans are sending around some more clips to prove Braley is more of a creature of Washington than a representative of Iowa. In one clip, shot during a 2012 interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, Braley says the gym in the House of Representatives is "one of the most important places I go." Watch the video below:
In another clip, during a 2013 appearance on a radio show, Braley comments that "there's no towel service" at the House gym during a discussion about the gym's staff. "We're doing our own laundry down there," Braley says. Watch the video below: