Democrats increasingly are worried that they will lose Iowa's open Senate seat to the GOP because their nominee, Rep. Bruce Braley, comes across as out of touch and is not engaging effectively with voters, National Journal reported
Braley's aloof image is raising concerns among those at the top of the party that he will lose the winnable race against the GOP nominee, state Sen. Joni Ernst. By contrast, she comes across as populist and personable, the Journal said.
Concerns began after Braley's recent statements at a closed-door Texas fundraiser of trial lawyers during which he insulted both Iowa's farmers and popular GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley. The comments energized the state GOP around Ernst's candidacy, while prominent national Republicans who have campaigned in the state have also reinforced Braley's negative image.
Meanwhile, the Journal said that at a recent campaign visit to the Iowa State Fair, Braley had little direct contact with voters and instead interacted with Washington, D.C., journalists, his mother, and an entourage of staff.
"It was a telling symptom of what's bedeviling Braley's campaign. Once considered a leading Democratic recruit, Braley has feverishly been fending off a perception that he's elitist and out of touch with regular Iowa voters," the Journal's Emily Schultheis wrote.
"In short, the ambitious lawyer turned congressman has become the Democratic version of Mitt Romney."
Braley has attempted to dispel notions of elitism, drawing instead on his middle-class upbringing.
"Tell them who I am. Tell them my life story," he said, speaking outside the Swine Barn at the state fair, according to the Journal.
"Tell them about working multiple jobs while I was going to law school and going to Iowa State [University] to help pay my way through college. Talk about what it was like when my father had a severe accident when I was 2 years old and was laid up for about a year and he was the sole breadwinner in our family."
Ernst's visit to the state fair represented a contrast as she interacted with potential supporters, the Journal reported.
"Look at the statements he has made," Ernst told reporters. "He set the stage himself. I don't need to elaborate much on how out of touch he is, he has done that for Iowa."
Braley's most recent ads were notably more personal and emotional than past spots, the Journal said.
"Braley's hope is that he and Democratic outside groups can convince voters that Ernst is extreme, and far outside the mainstream of Iowa — a message his team has begun pushing and says will be potent," the Journal said.
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