Retiring Sen. Tom Harkin created
some controversy for Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley by telling a crowd at the Story County Democrats' barbecue that they should pay no attention to how "attractive" or "nice" Republican candidate Joni Ernst is.
"In this Senate race, I’ve been watching some of these ads. And there’s sort of this sense that, 'Well, I hear so much about Joni Ernst. She is really attractive, and she sounds nice,'" Harkin said, according to a video obtained by Buzzfeed.
He then added: "Well I gotta to thinking about that. I don’t care if she’s as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like Michele Bachmann, she’s wrong for the state of Iowa."
Ernst did not let the comments go unanswered, telling Fox News that she was "offended that Sen. Harkin" would imply women cannot be both conservative and female.
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"I was very offended that Sen. Harkin would say that. I think it's unfortunate that he and many of their party believe you can't be a real woman if you're conservative and you're female," Ernst told Fox News. "I believe if my name had been John Ernst attached to my resume, Sen. Harkin would not have said those things," she added.
While his comments may not have been scripted, the attack line is part of an overall strategy employed in the last few weeks to muddy Ernst's "nice girl" image.
"In recent weeks, Democrats have promoted stories about a dispute Ernst's husband had with a house painter, construction contracts awarded to her father when she was Montgomery County Auditor and local political conflicts during her time in county office," the Huffington Post reported recently.
Reports of Harkin's comments come after the Des Moines Register
released its final poll, which shows Ernst with a 7-point lead over Braley.
The poll gave Ernst a 51 percent to 44 percent lead among likely voters.
"This race looks like it's decided," said J. Ann Selzer, who conducted the poll for the Register. "That said, there are enormous resources being applied to change all that."
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