Senators 'Martin-and-Lewis' act highlights day of Iowa unity
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Bruce Braley admitted he had a hard act to follow.
U.S. Sens. Charles Grassley (left) and Tom Harkin of Iowa, a Republican and Democrat respectively, sat next to each other at the presidential inauguration Monday. They co-hosted an event for Iowans after the ceremonies and traded good-natured jokes, much to the delight of Iowa’s four congressmen.
Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Iowa's two U.S. senators, Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley, who were both sworn into Congress in 1975, celebrated their 10th presidential inauguration - dating back to President Jimmy Carter, who was in attendance in Washington, D.C., Monday as President Barack Obama took the oath of office for a second term.
Democrat Harkin and Republican Grassley sat next to each other outside the U.S. Capitol. So did their wives, Ruth Harkin and Barbara Grassley.
"We were the only state in which that happened," Harkin said.
The senators co-hosted an Iowa gathering in the Senate's Russell Building for Iowans after the ceremony.
Cellphone service was spotty or down on the Capitol grounds as Obama spoke, meaning Grassley, a prolific user of the micro-blogging site Twitter, could not fire out his "tweets" with thoughts on the president's speech.
"You're the one who's always tweeting," Harkin said at the Iowa event, laughing, with an arm around his colleague.
Grassley joked that his Twitter account likely was disabled because the president is a Democrat.
Braley, an eastern Iowa congressman, said the good-natured senatorial ribbing recalled an iconic act of the 20th century.
"I didn't know when I came here today that the comedy duo of Harkin and Grassley would be the Senate version of Martin and Lewis," Braley joked.
More than 100 Iowans joined Harkin, Grassley, Braley, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, at the Hawkeye State event.
"It is something to show the world that we can do these things ... without coups, without violence, mob action," Harkin said.
Added Grassley, "We do things in this country by evolution, not a revolution, thank God."
Grassley said Iowa has a strong history of divided government with a split Legislature and senatorial delegation.
"When it comes to looking out for Iowa, I think you're going to get the same respect from both Republicans and Democrats," Grassley said.
King marked his third presidential inauguration.
"You would be surprised at how good things feel when I think about how we have this transfer of power in a peaceful way," King said. "That's inside of me this day."
Andrew Lauver of Lake City, a Southern Cal High School and Iowa State University graduate, is interning with Grassley.
"I am a Republican, and I really enjoyed the festivities," Lauver said. "There was quite a buzz around so that was a lot of fun."
Lauver, 22, watched the inauguration from the Capitol lawn with a full view of the oath of office and related events.
"I thought it was a good speech," Lauver said. "It was fun to see all the people out there waving American flags."
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