OCHEYEDAN, Iowa — Sen. Charles E. Grassley has one word he’d remove from the presidential campaign conversation: Liar.
While hosting a town hall meeting at a senior center in Ocheyedan, Iowa, on Monday, one attendee asked the Iowa Republican who’s up for re-election this year to comment on the state of the presidential race.
“Well first of all I think if one word was left out it would be a lot more civil,” Grassley said. “Don’t call anybody a liar.”
On the campaign trail, that word has been frequently used by GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump. The billionaire has aimed that criticism at his top competitor — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. In a February debate, Trump called Cruz, “the single biggest liar.” But Cruz has also used the word, essentially calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a liar on the Senate floor last July for agreeing to allow a vote on renewing the Export-Import Bank.
At both of his town hall meetings on Monday, Grassley was asked to discuss the divisive and heated rhetoric of the 2016 campaign. The division is continuing into April, with neither Trump, Cruz, nor Ohio Gov. John Kasich, garnering enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination.
At a public library in Rock Rapids, Iowa, in the conservative northwest corner of the state, another attendee stood up, distressed at the state of affairs on both sides of the aisle.
“I’m sick and tired of character assassination and I hope you are too,” said the man. “And I hope somebody tells them to act like men and women and not children,” he added, drawing applause from the Iowans gathered at the town hall meeting.
“I suppose there are a lot of words that should be left out, but one that incenses me is when you call someone a liar,” Grassley said echoing his previous comment.
“I think we developed the last 25 years with less civility towards one another. There’s something basic here about our society that must change,” Grassley said. “And I think it’s reflecting in our political system. Now I think what you’re saying — and I don’t want to say you’re wrong. It’s not that. … We are losing our general foundation.”
Before the Iowa GOP primary on Feb. 1, which Cruz won, Grassley appeared with each of the six Republican candidates , but he has so far remained neutral in the primary fight.