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Grassley completes 99 county tour, talks about his future

Senator Grassley tweeted this picture after finishing his 99 county tour.

GREENFIELD — Senator Chuck Grassley has completed his schedule of holding some sort of meeting in each of Iowa’s 99 counties every year. “For the 41st year in a row!” Grassley said, with a laugh.

Grassley has been doing the 99 county tour since he became a U.S. Senator in 1981 and a town hall meeting in Greenfield Wednesday was his 99th and final tour event this year. He served six years in the U.S. House before that. During that period in the 1970s, Grassley toured the 16 counties in his House district four times a year. Grassley says it’s all because of something he overheard decades ago.

“I don’t even know whether they knew if I was in the room or not. If they did, then, that was their motivation for saying it,” Grassley says. “But they said: ‘It must be election time. Politicians are in town.’ And I thought to myself: ‘Do they think we only come around because we want to get reelected?’” Grassley says visiting businesses, schools and civil organizations as well as holding town-hall style meetings like the one in Adair County Wednesday helps him gauge public opinion and influences his votes in congress.

“I get vocal opinions of people either from their statements to me or the questions that they have to know what’s generally on their mind and some of them there’s no doubt what’s on their mind,” Grassley says. “I mean it’s so strong, some questions or some comments, which is perfectly legitimate.” The circuit has become known as “the full Grassley” and he’s gotten some guff from other politicians — including president candidates — who’ve been compelled to make the trek.

“Well, they kind of swear at me and say: ‘How come you started all this?’” Grassley says, with a laugh.

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