ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley makes a point of visiting each of his states 99 counties at least once each year. He's back home now for this August recess, and at several town meetings in the last day. Senator, welcome back to DAY TO DAY.
Senator CHARLES GRASSLEY (Republican, Iowa): Well, I'm always glad to be on NPR. I know a lot of Iowans listen as well.
CHADWICK: Iran, the war in Iraq, terrorism - those are stories in the national, international news today. What are you hearing there in Iowa?
Mr. GRASSLEY: Well, a wide variety of issues come up in my hour, hour and a half town meetings. But Iraq has come up at every one of the meetings, and it's been a non-emotional discussion of it. People want updates, they want my views. I think there's some nervousness about the insurgency, and I believe people would like to see light at the end of the tunnel. I don't think I'm seeing Iowans demanding withdrawal, but there's a great deal of uncertainty. They would like to have some certainty brought to the discussion and particularly when troops might be withdrawn.
CHADWICK: There was an absolutely stinging editorial in yesterday's Des Moines Register. Now, this is the biggest newspaper in the state. It quotes the president saying we're not going to leave as long as I'm president. This is from his press conference on Monday. And the paper goes on to say President Bush got us into this mess, he has a responsibility to get us out or at least to try harder than he is. Is that sentiment reflected in these town meetings?
Mr. GRASSLEY: No, I don't think so. I have not had people ask questions about get a date set and get the troops out. I do bring that up once in a while as more of a debate within the Democratic Party than between Bush and Democrats, because we had that debate for two days in the Senate. And as you recall, the vote came out 87 to 13, and the thirteen were Democrats. So there's even a minority of Democrats that think a date ought to be set.
I think in regard to the editorial that you have to remember that Bush would like to get out today as well. We don't relish the opportunity of being there, but on the other hand we feel that we have made a commitment as long as we're a guest of the government of Iraq. If they told us to go tomorrow, we'd have to get out tomorrow. But quite frankly, they want us there. The only thing that I'm uncertain about is the extent to they're wanting us there and we're too much of a crutch for them that they don't assume enough responsibility on their own hand.
CHADWICK: I've just seen a report that registration, party registration in your state, Iowa, has tipped to the Democrats in the last month or couple of months. It's been a Republican registered state by a narrow margin for about a dozen years, and now there are more Democrats registered in Iowa than Republicans. What do you make of that?
Mr. GRASSLEY: Yeah. Well, when Republicans were outnumbering Democrats for a long period of time - sometimes by as few as 20,000 and maybe at most 25,000 -I never considered it much of a victory for Republicans, as now I don't consider Democrats outnumbering us much of a worry for Republicans for the reason that our state is about one-third Democrat, one-third Republican, and one-third independent. And Iowans tend to vote more for the person than for the party. And so it just emphasizes what we Republicans always know. You've got to get Democrats and you got independents to vote for you or you're never going to win an election. And it's the same in this upcoming election.
CHADWICK: So it's a good idea to get to each of those 99 counties each year?
Mr. GRASSLEY: Very definitely. And I'm not up for election. I've done that 26 years in a row, so I don't do it just because I am running for office.
CHADWICK: Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa. Thank you for speaking with us again, senator.
Mr. GRASSLEY: Thank you.
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