DES MOINES — As they dedicated their state party headquarters in his honor, Republicans repeatedly referred to Sen. Chuck Grassley as a “living legend.”

“The best part of being referred to by those two words — ‘living legend’ — is living,” Grassley told about 100 people who gathered Monday at the Des Moines headquarters, now named the Sen. Chuck Grassley Conference Center.

It was the party’s way of thanking Grassley for his leadership, his representation of Iowa in Congress and his support for the party and GOP candidates, said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann. The honor was long overdue, he said, because the party wouldn’t have its headquarters building without Grassley’s support.

Grassley took the opportunity to thank the party and all those who have supported him since he was first elected 60 years ago.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in the United States Senate,” Grassley said. “Let me say, representing the good people of Iowa makes the job of being a United States senator a lot easier than I can imagine some other states’ senators have.”

His former chief of staff, David Young, who went on to serve in the U.S. House, compared Grassley to Jimmy Stewart’s character in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

“Down there on the Senate floor, in the committee with the gavel, doing what’s doing right for America, God and country, and Iowa,” Young said.

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Gov. Kim Reynolds echoed that sentiment, thanking Grassley for “standing strong and really representing not only this state but this country.”

His grandson, state Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, thanked the party and volunteers who worked for the senator.

“Not only has he probably helped everyone in this room with something at some point in time, but you have been so helpful to us, especially to him in his time all the way back in the Legislature,” the younger Grassley said. “The nice thing, you can walk into a campaign event or a Main Street event and as long as Chuck or Barbara Grassley is with you, it doesn’t matter if it’s the most blue, liberal place in America, you’re going to get a good reception.”

Sen. Grassley downplayed the attention, telling his supporters “there’s nothing special about Chuck Grassley.”

Instead, “we ought to be spending the day honoring the country we live in” and preserving those opportunities, Sen. Grassley said.

“That’s what my job is all about — to make sure that we give to the next generation a better country than we inherited from the eight generations that preceded me,” he said. “That’s what I’m up to.”

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