Grassley uncertain on going to convention, citing hotel cost

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Sen. Charles Grassley is concerned with how much value he gets for his money — just not whose face is on the bills.

The Iowa Republican told home-state reporters on a conference call Tuesday that he hasn't decided whether to go to the Republican National Convention in July. Part of his concern, he said, is that he doesn't want to have to pay for a hotel room for five days if he's not going to be staying that entire time.

"I will do something different and maybe stay in hotels or motels I can buy a night at a time," said Grassley, who's known for his frugality.

Grassley's also up for re-election in November, and though he's widely expected to win, he said campaigning at home should be a top priority. It's common for senators who are up for re-election to skip the presidential convention. Because of GOP divisions over front-runner Donald Trump, there's additional focus this year on which Republicans are steering clear.

Grassley also remarked that he's attended every convention since 1980. "I've always said at the end of the convention I'm never going to do that again, but I've always ended up doing it again," Grassley said.

On the same conference call, Grassley was asked about the Treasury Department's just-announced decision to replace Andrew Jackson's image on the $20 bill with that of Harriet Tubman. The decision came after much controversy over the original proposal to boot Alexander Hamilton from the $10, but Grassley said he wasn't even sure who was on the $20. When he looks at a bill he only pays attention to the denomination, he said.

"I don't even know whose picture is on it except for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln," Grassley said.


Al Franken, former "Saturday Night Live" star, comedian and actor, generally leaves the jokes behind now that he's a Minnesota senator. He made an exception, though, to poke fun at Senate colleague and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

At an event last week sponsored by home-state publication MinnPost, the Democrat said Republicans are in a bind, as their "best hope for stopping Donald Trump is a guy who is the love child of Joe McCarthy and Dracula."

Franken went on: "Ted Cruz can be really hard to get along with, but I understand that in a couple of weeks he's planning to launch a charm offensive. He's working on it. He's having a little trouble with the charm part but he's got the offensive part down cold."

He's not the first senator to spell out his dislike of Cruz. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, once called his party's choice between Cruz or Donald Trump for the nomination to be like choosing between being "poisoned or shot." Graham has half-heartedly backed Cruz.

After his bit on Cruz, Franken went on to mock House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has repeatedly said he wouldn't accept the Republican nomination should his party's Cleveland convention wind up in gridlock.

Assuming the role of Ryan as an "18th Century fop," Franken protested with an English accent, "Ask all you like, I shan't run. No, no, no."


Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report from Washington.

An occasional look at what Capitol Hill is talking about