Chuck Grassley uses Twitter far more often than one might expect of a 78-year-old politician.
The veteran Republican senator from Iowa created ripples in the Twitterverse this weekend when one of his tweets called President Barack Obama "stupid."
During an appearance in Dubuque on Tuesday, Grassley backed off that comment, saying he should have chosen his words more carefully.
Grassley fielded questions and concerns from Dubuque business leaders on Tuesday at the Grand
River Center. At one point, he was asked to comment on Obama's assertion that the Supreme Court should not strike down the president's health care reform bill.
"I had a comment; I should have been a little more diplomatic," Grassley said, referring to his controversial tweet and drawing laughter from the gathering of about 50 people, "because the president is an intelligent man."
Grassley added later, "He said something stupid. I say something stupid. We all say something stupid from time to time."
Obama said he was confident the Supreme Court would not strike down his Affordable Care Act because to do so would be "an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."
Grassley responded via Twitter on Saturday, saying he was not outraged by Obama's comments because the American people are "not stupid as this x prof of con law."
Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.
"What bothers me is the fact that (Obama) knows all about Marbury v. Madison (a historic case that established judicial review) and the Constitution allowing the courts to be independent and in the process of independence to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional," Grassley said. "He shouldn't have done it, and he knows that. And I think that he ought to apologize to the American people for not respecting the independence of the judiciary."
Grassley engaged his audience for an hour. He was asked about the future of health care, tax reform and rising gas prices, among other topics. Regarding gas prices, he conceded that little can be done by the president to quell surges. He did, however, say he wishes Obama would approve more drilling for oil at home.
"More irritating to me is we heard that same argument 10 years ago that you couldn't drill in Alaska because it wouldn't help maybe for 10 years. But if you had made that decision 10 years ago to drill in Alaska, we'd be getting benefits out of it now," Grassley said. "When we're spending $830 million every day to import oil, why wouldn't we want to harvest our own and leave the money here instead of sending it to Venezuela or to the Arab countries where they want to train people to kill us?"
Grassley also was asked about the political divide that seems to have increased at the state and federal levels. He said partisan politics is as bad as it has been in the past 10 years, but that it's not as bad as some may believe, and to a certain degree is even necessary.
"There's always some partisanship, and we ought to be thankful that there's some partisanship. Because there's two ways in this country of doing things," Grassley said. "That brings dynamics to our political system that hopefully brings out the best of our system."