Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, a leading candidate for the U.S. Senate this year, was put on the defensive Tuesday by a video clip showing him warning that a Republican Senate takeover could leave the GOP's Chuck Grassley - "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school" - in charge of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.
If the GOP captures the Senate majority, "you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee," Braley says in the video.
Braley also tells a group of supporters in the video that "if you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for thirty years, in a visible or public way” on the Judiciary panel.
In a written statement, Braley apologized for his remarks.
The video of Braley's remarks was e-mailed by America Rising PAC, a GOP opposition research group founded in part by Matt Rhodes, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign manager.
The group's executive director, Tim Miller, told CNN that Braley made the remarks at a campaign event in Corpus Christi, Texas.
A statement on America Rising's web site says Braley made his remarks while addressing a group of lawyers at a fundraiser.
At Slate, John Dickerson explains why the gaffe is so damaging:
Let us count the ways. Iowa is a farm state, and it's never a good idea to disparage one of the state's chief occupations. Next, it’s particularly not a good idea to demean your state when you’re somewhere else: In this case, Braley was speaking in Texas. Next, Braley, a trial lawyer, was making his pitch to a room full of trial lawyers at a private fundraiser (which is why he didn’t think he was being recorded). Trial lawyers are perhaps the most unpopular constituency among Republican base voters—besides Obama administration officials. Since midterm elections are all about motivating your base, Braley has given his opponent a turnout gift. Next, look where Braley is standing: If you’re going to talk down to Iowa farmers, at least don't do it next to a table of booze. It makes for amusing viewing and that reinforces the idea for voters that you're not one of them.