DES MOINES, IOWA – Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley cut straight to the chase when asked if he’d gladly accept the support of former President Trump as the longtime lawmaker from Iowa runs next year for an eighth six-year term in the Senate.
"Anybody who’s got the approval rating of 91% of the Republicans in Iowa, you surely wouldn’t be stupid enough to turn down that help," Grassley told Fox News on Saturday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, minutes before Trump’s first rally in the Hawkeye State since last November’s election got underway.
Grassley was pointing to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released last week that indicated the former president enjoyed a record 53% favorable rating among Iowans. And among Iowa Republicans, Trump was at a sky high 91% favorability.
The senator repeated the line a couple of hours later, as Trump brought Grassley to the podium to endorse his 2022 reelection bid.
"I was born at night, but not last night. So if I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person who’s got 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart. I’m smart enough to accept that endorsement," Grassley said as he stood next to the former president in front of a large crowd of devoted Trump supporters.
Trump praised Grassley, calling him "a man who truly loves Iowa" and saying that "he’s strong and he’s very handsome."
"He fights like no other. When I needed him for help, he was always there," Trump touted, before emphasizing that Grassley "has my complete and total endorsement for reelection."
Grassley, in a speech to the crowd a couple of hours earlier, tied himself to the former president, showcasing that "President Trump and I were proud to deliver for the hard working people of Iowa and the United States, people just like you, policies that make a difference in the United States of America to continue America First."
The senator’s praise of Trump stands in contrast of what he said at the beginning of the year, in the aftermath of Trump’s unsuccessful attempts to overturn now-President Biden’s 2020 election victory and the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists and other Trump supporters aiming to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.
"The reality is, he lost. He brought over 60 lawsuits and lost all but one of them," Grassley said in a statement after voting to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial. "He belittled and harassed elected officials across the country to get his way. He encouraged his own, loyal vice president, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count."
But on Saturday, with Trump’s immense popularity and sway among most Republican voters and politicians unabated, Grassley told Fox News that "this is a good thing to have him a year before the 2022 elections."
Trump spoke for nearly two hours, spending plenty of his time re-litigating his 2020 election defeat to Biden. And the former president also took some shots at a frequent GOP target – longtime Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump jabbed at a small group of GOP senators, led McConnell, for last week allowing the majority Democrats to temporarily lift the debt ceiling, which prevented the nation from defaulting.
"To think that we had 11 Republicans go along with an extension, headed up by Mitch McConnell," Trump said, eliciting boos from the crowd.
Asked if he agreed with Trump’s criticism of McConnell, Grassley answered "I think this that, we Republicans have to stick together. We should do everything to unite each other and that’s why we are able to have 50 Republicans standing firm against increasing the national debt and also stand firm in being against the six trillion dollars that the Democrats want to spend that’s feeding the fires of inflation."
Grassley, who’s 88 years old, announced his reelection bid late last month. Trump, in endorsing the senator, played off his age, saying "look at this, he’s young!"
But some Democrats have spotlighted Grassley’s age, arguing it’s time for someone younger to represent Iowa in the Senate.
Grassley, who showed off his stamina during a pushup contest with Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas during a June Iowa GOP political event, told Fox News "only God determines how much time you have on this earth and whatever time I’ve got left I’m going to work for the people of Iowa because they’ve been good to me and I hope I’ve been good to them as well."