Chuck Grassley releases ad attacking Mike Franken over comments on rural Iowa

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is releasing a television ad going after his Democratic opponent's comments about rural Iowa.

Grassley, a Republican, is seeking his eighth term in the Senate. He's facing Democrat Mike Franken, a retired U.S. Navy admiral.

The 30-second ad opens with a narrator, who says "Mike Franken's Iowa," and then plays clips of Franken speaking at campaign events around the state.

"What I see in rural Iowa is a forlornness in the eye, an emptiness, which I see in South Sudan ... mostly in women, who just look void," Franken says.

"It's not the state that I want for future generations. It's not the state that I want to be buried in," he says.

In another clip, Franken says, "We can do this: rescue the state of Iowa. Rescue our reputation."

"Who does this guy think he is?" the narrator concludes.

Mike Franken (left) will challenge U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley in November.
Mike Franken (left) will challenge U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley in November.

C.J. Petersen, Franken's Iowa communications director, said Grassley has voted for policies that have been bad for rural Iowa.

"Over Sen. Grassley’s 47-year career in Washington, rural Iowa has lost over 30,000 family farms," Petersen said in a statement. "Towns like New Hartford all across our state have been left behind by Sen. Grassley and ripped off by the corporate special interests that cut his campaign checks. If there’s anyone poking rural Iowans in the eye, it’s Chuck Grassley."

Michaela Sundermann, Grassley's communications director, said "we think Iowans will be shocked" by Franken's comments.

"No one seeking to represent Iowa has ever been this disrespectful of the state and its people," she said in a statement. "We expect Iowa Democrats will soon experience buyer's remorse as they learn more about their unvetted nominee. His views about Iowans are disqualifying."

Grassley's campaign staff said they will spend six figures on the ad campaign, which began Thursday and will air throughout the state.

Franken frequently speaks on the campaign trail about growing up in the rural town of Lebanon in northwest Iowa. He has repeated a message of "country over party" in his campaign, and has accused Grassley of putting partisan interests over Iowans.

"It is clear he has chosen his corporate donors over the common good, his personal ambitions and the whims of his party over citizens’ needs," Franken said Saturday during a stop in Grassley's hometown of New Hartford.

Franken began airing his own television ads earlier this week. In his ads, which he narrates, Franken emphasizes his military experience and speaks about instances in which he has disagreed with presidents of both political parties. That includes opposing the invasion of Iraq while serving as a military adviser during George W. Bush's presidency.

Franken's campaign is spending about $160,000 to air his ads in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets.

Fundraising reports show Franken outraised Grassley in the most recent filing period, but Grassley had $4 million in the bank as of June 30 compared to Franken's $1.1 million.

In a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll from July, Grassley led Franken by eight percentage points, 47% to 39%, among likely voters. While Grassley held the lead, the margin was narrower than in any Iowa Poll since Grassley was first elected to the Senate in 1980.

Both candidates have traveled the state over the course of their campaigns, and each recently concluded a tour of all 99 of Iowa's counties.

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Chuck Grassley airs ad attacking Mike Franken over rural Iowa comments