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Political Mercury

Grassley: Trump shows humility in private


Only minutes into a town hall in Carroll Saturday morning, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, interrupted a compliment on his longevity and consistency of service from Dr. Walter Anneberg.

“You’re a medical doctor, and I’m supposed to be in a home,” joked Grassley, 81. Later on, Grassley delighted the 40-member audience (Grassley knew many of the attendees by first name) with his talk of working as a younger man in a factory — the Waterloo Register. And that’s not a newspaper, said Grassley, who added his job was to put screw holes in furnace registers for 10 years.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, says Donald Trump has the humility to connect in a long-term, meaningful way with Iowans.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, says Donald Trump has the humility to connect in a long-term, meaningful way with Iowans.

It’s all trademark Grassley, a just-folks Iowan who happens to be the chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley travels to town halls with just one staff member, and takes his own notes on legal pads, often pausing between questions to jot down constituent comments.

We all know about “Iowa Nice,” but there’s also “Iowa Humble,” and the latter, as much as the former, is personified by one Chuck Grassley. Challenging Grassley on style or motivation or service — hitting him anywhere outside a pure policy dispute — is to challenge Iowans’ conception of humility itself. Ask Bruce Braley, one of Colorado’s newest residents.

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So it’s interesting, knowing Grassley’s staying power, and what’s behind it, to watch Donald Trump surge in public popularity, to go to No. 1 nationally in some Republican presidential polling and trail only Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in key Iowa Caucuses surveys of likely GOP voters.

So I asked Grassley in an interview about this following his town hall at the Carroll County Courthouse.

Does Donald Trump have the humility to connect in a long-term, meaningful way with Iowans?

“I’ve had private meetings with Donald Trump, and I think the answer to that is ‘yes,’” Grassley said.

So Grassley thinks Donald Trump has humility?

“Yeah, in private discussions that has come out,” Grassley said.

Grassley would not elaborate on the substance of those conversations with Trump.

“Well. I don’t want to tell. A private discussion is a private discussion,” Grassley said.

Fair enough. But not many people, if anyone, have ever used the term humility within shouting distance of Donald Trump, I responded.

“Well, there’s degrees of humility, and he might have a lesser degree of it than other people,” Grassley said, chuckling. “But I think he knows he’s had to work hard for what he has. If you know you’ve had to work hard for what you have, me, a little farm, or him, being a nine, 10 billionaire, you still have to work for it.”

Should we be taking Donald Trump seriously as Iowans, and as media members, as a potential commander in chief?

“I can’t speak for journalists,” Grassley said. “But for a guy like me that invites everybody to participate in the caucuses, it would be intellectually dishonest for me to say that he shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

Does Grassley think Trump has a realistic shot of winning the Iowa Caucuses?

“I won’t be able to tell you that until December,” Grassley said. “For anybody. Not just him.”

• • •

Grassley said he sees an historical analogy between the U.S.-brokered Iranian nuclear deal and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement with Nazi Germany before World War II.

“It is from the standpoint of the naiveté of the person doing the negotiating,” Grassley said in an interview with Political Mercury.

Grassley said he was referring to both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It would be both,” he said. “When it comes to Iran.

“It shows when you compare what they wanted to accomplish to what they accomplished,” Grassley said.

Grassley also discussed Iran in a town hall meeting Saturday morning at the Carroll County Courthouse attended by more than 40 people.

The July 14 agreement between Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany lifts economic sanctions on Iran and restricts the nation’s nuclear ambitions over the next decade. Critics like Grassley say Iran is positioned to be a nuclear power in the future.

The reality, though, Grassley said, is that there are not enough votes in Congress to override a presidential veto on a potential resolution to reject the accord.

“It’s going to go into effect so Iran can be a nuclear nation,” Grassley said in the town hall, adding, “In 10 years, Iran can legally be a nuclear power.” CV

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.

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