As the Nov. 2 general election draws closer, the campaigning gets ever more intense, and Storm Lake was the target of another campaign canvass as Barbara Grassley and Marilyn King stumped for their husbands here Friday.
The Grassleys recently celebrated 50 years of marriage, and almost that long in the political arena together. Chuck Grassley first narrowly missed out on a three-way race for the statehouse in 1956, then was elected as a state representative two years later in 1958. Grassley remained in the House until 1974 when he was elected to the U.S. House where he served until 1980 when he was elected to the Senate.
Barbara Grassley said she and King are ranging throughout western Iowa "to get out the vote". Mrs. Grassley said the solid, Republican base in western Iowa is a resource that both candidates want to tap into going into the last full week before the election a week from Tuesday.
"The good, solid Republicans here need to do a lot to offset the eastern part of the state," Grassley said. Grassley said she and Marilyn King also want to help get the vote out for local candidates.
As far as offering advice to her husband, Grassley said, "I give plenty. He'll bounce things off me and sometimes I'll play devil's advocate."
That does not mean though that her husband is not in tune to a wide variety of issues, Barbara said.
"No matter what, Chuck is very approachable," she said.
A key bit of advice Barbara offers her husband is to "keep his speeches short. I tell him to keep it short because after a while I think they (voters) begin to lose it."
Barbara acknowledges that her husband has a gift "to explain it so John Q. Citizen can understand it."
As an executive assistant for the Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell, Inc., transportation lobbying firm in Washington, Barbara Grassley has been exposed to myriad issues at the federal level. She has taken a leave from her lobbying position to help lobby her husband's constituents back home.
For Barbara Grassley, "It depends" on the situation as to whether she or her husband have certain defined responsibilities, and privileges, in the family. "He's making more of an effort to get to his grandkids' things than he did for his own kids. As you get older you find out what's really important," she said.
Marilyn left her own 22-year career as a kindergarten teacher shortly after her husband was elected. As a former teacher, she has addressed many teachers' concerns regarding the No Child Left Behind act.
"Everybody has the teachers convinced that the money's not there but somebody's holding onto it" in Washington, King said.
When asked who makes key decisions in the family, Marilyn King offered a very diplomatic, "I think we both do. It's pretty close to fifty-fifty." She defers to her husband, though, on many political issues.
Marilyn also advises her husband to drive carefully. Another bit of advice is that he should "be sure he listens and hears what they're saying." She also acts as a sounding board for her husband's policy presentations. "If I can understand it then others can too," Marilyn said.
The Grassleys have five children: Robin, who takes care of the family farm as well as his own farm near New Hartford; Michele, who lives in Virginia; and Lee, Wendy, and Jay who live in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area. They have nine grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
The Kings have three sons: David, who has taken over the family construction company; Mick, who lives in Omaha; and Jeff of Odebolt, who is acting as his father's campaign director. The Kings are expecting their first grandchild three days after the Nov. 2 election.