The backing of the party’s most visible figure will provide a lift to G.O.P. leaders ahead of next year’s midterms but it might not have happened after Grassley criticized Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S.
‘We have with us tonight a great American patriot. A man who truly loves Iowa,’ said Trump before thousands of fans at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
‘He’s young, very young guy, he’s strong. And he’s very handsome.
‘He fights like no other. When I’ve needed him for help, he was always there.’
Grassley joined Trump on stage and thanked him for his endorsement.
‘If I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa I wouldn’t be too smart, he said.
‘I’m smart enough to accept that endorsement.’
‘We have with us tonight a great American patriot. A man who truly loves Iowa,’ said former President Trump as he brought Sen. Chuck Grassley on stage for a formal endorsement
Grassley was spotted being interviewed before Trump’s arrival at the rally at Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. The 88-year-old announced recently that he will run for reelection
Grassley has generally had cordial relations with Trump.
But distance opened between them in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 violence.
Although he ultimately voted not to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, he was clear that the then president held some responsibility for the violence that unfolded.
‘It was a direct, violent attack on our seat of government,’ he said in a statement. ‘Those who plowed over police barricades, assaulted law enforcement, and desecrated our monument to representative democracy flouted the rule of law and disgraced our nation.
‘Six people, including two U.S. Capitol Police Officers, now lie dead in the wake of this assault.
‘The perpetrators must be brought to justice, and I am glad to see that many such cases are progressing around the country.
‘While the ultimate responsibility for this attack rests upon the shoulders of those who unlawfully entered the Capitol, everyone involved must take responsibility for their destructive actions that day, including the former president.’
But since then he was has taken a distinctly Trumpian line.
On Thursday, he refused to vote with his party leader Mitch McConnell on a technical measure to allow a debt ceiling increase.
Trump said the move had thrown a lifeline to Democrats and showed McConnell’s unfitness to lead.
Grassley’s decision to run for one more term came as a relief to Republicans who feared a bitter nomination fight might put the seat at risk if he decided to retire.
The senator, who will be 95 at the end of another term, announced his run with a joke about his fitness.
‘It’s 4 a.m. in Iowa so I’m running,’ said the frequent jogger in a tweet last month.
‘I do that 6 days a week.’
It ended months of speculation about his plans, and fears that his retirement could let in a Democrat during what will be a vigorous battle for control of the Senate.
Grassley (c) would be 95 at the end of his next term. His decision to run avoids a potentially divisive nomination fight in a cycle when Republicans are hoping to retake the Senate
But last week he demonstrated his loyalty to Trump.
When the Senate Judiciary Committee published a report accusing the former president of pressuring the Department of Justice to help him overturn Joe Biden’s victory, Grassley, the ranking Republican, released his own minority report.
He said transcripts from the probe painted a very different picture.
‘In all known instances where President Trump had the opportunity to direct DOJ to take steps to try and overturn the election, he chose not to do so,’ said his report.
And he remains a cheerleader for Trump’s tax cuts, crediting them with helping the economy bounce back from the pandemic.
‘The pre-pandemic best economy in 50 years started by Trump tax cut is roaring back after a virus interlude,’ he said recently.