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John McCain Boosts Joni Ernst in Iowa Senate Race

McCain is an Arizona Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted a mailer from a group supporting Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, for a "disgusting attack" on Republican Joni Ernst's military service.  

Braley and Ernst are running for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin's seat in one of the cycle's most competitive contests. The mailer, from NextGen Climate, an environment-focused group backed by Tom Steyer, says, "Joni Ernst is putting her big oil backers ahead of national security."  

"American troops have spent years fighting terrorists overseas," the mailer reads. "But politicians like Joni Ernst are undercutting that battle here at home."  

In a statement provided first to CQ Roll Call, McCain blasted the mailer, calling it "beyond offensive" to say that about Ernst, who is a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard and would be the first female combat veteran in the Senate, if elected . "I know first-hand that politics isn't bean bag, but there’s always been a line between simply playing rough, and being truly out of bounds," McCain said in the statement. "Congressman Braley’s special interest allies have crossed that line. Joni Ernst is a veteran who honorably commanded American soldiers in Iraq. It is beyond offensive that Congressman Braley’s special interest allies would attack her service and her commitment to her soldiers."  

"Congressman Braley and his Washington allies are running the most negative campaign Iowa has ever seen. But this time they’ve gone too far. Congressman Braley should do the right and decent thing and immediately condemn this disgusting attack," McCain concluded.  

A poll released Monday found Braley leading Ernst in the competitive race for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin's seat.  

The race is rated Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.  

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