“Chuck Grassley and Jeff Kaufmann are making a big mistake,” said a voice as I walked out of Auto Lab at 28th Street and Grand Avenue, where Tony had just put snow tires on my Ford Flex.

It was cold, and the guy standing in front of me with a wool scarf that covered half his face was my old friend, K.C.

“Where’ve you been?” I asked.

“I took some time off,” K.C. replied.

“I know what you mean,” I said. “A lot of people weren’t happy with the election. The Democrats’ blue wave was barely a ripple, although it did take out some good Republicans, including David Young. I’m guessing most Republicans didn’t see that coming.”

“Nor did Democrats think Fred Hubbell would lose,” K.C. said. “But it was all predictable. People just didn’t want to admit that Kim Reynolds was such a good candidate. Same with Cindy Axne,” who beat Young.

“So what’s the mistake Grassley and Kaufmann are making?” I asked, turning back to Iowa’s senior U.S. senator and the head of the Iowa Republican Party.

“Do you remember me telling you why Trump needs Russia?” K.C. asked.

“Sure. You said it was because Russian oligarchs had loaned him money. And when Trump and Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki, you said Trump was treating our democracy like a real estate deal and would trade it for the right to build a golf course in Moscow.”

“Well, I was wrong,” K.C. said. “It wasn’t a golf course. It was a Trump tower. As it turns out, Trump wanted to do a real estate deal in the shadow of the Kremlin and he even offered Putin a bribe ­— a $50 million suite on top of the building.

“Right in the middle of the 2016 campaign,” K.C. said with emphasis.  

“After lying about it ­—­­ and then getting caught in his lie, like he always does ­— Trump now acts like it’s no big deal for him to want to build a tower in Moscow and bribe the head of the Russian government at a time when Russian internet trolls were working overtime to distort our elections.”

“Our president is nothing if not shameless,” I said.

“I was wrong about something else,” K.C. continued. “I said smart Republicans like Grassley were beginning to see the light and back away from Trump.”

“Grassley isn’t backing away,” I said. “He and Kaufmann are doubling down and backing Trump in the Iowa caucuses in 2020.”

“I saw that, and it’s a big mistake,” K.C. said.

“Trump has single-handedly destroyed the Republican Party,” he said. “He took born-again Christians and ran their ethics through a meat grinder. He shredded the party hierarchy. He’s driven away anyone with half a brain.

“He’s done just about everything imaginable to destroy the party.

“I used to think Grassley was smart and was just playing Trump to get a better deal for Iowans on trade issues and ethanol and infrastructure,” K.C. said.

“But it’s clear now that you can’t deal with someone as erratic and dishonest as Trump. He says one thing and does the opposite two days later.

“Look at how he’s handled immigration and foreign policy. He’s the laughingstock of the world.

“Trump is a disaster, and there’s no reason for Grassley and Kaufmann to support him in the Iowa caucuses,” K.C. said. “The caucuses are more than a year away, and things are changing so fast that nothing looks the same two months in a row.

“What were they thinking? History is coming down on Trump like a ton of bricks, and it will not look kindly upon his enablers, and that’s what Grassley and Kaufmann are,” K.C. said as he crossed Grand Avenue.