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UPDATE 7:47 ETReal Clear Politics reported that Sen. Grassley’s comments constituted an official endorsement of Rand Paul, but it has become clear that this is not the case. Grassley has spent the week making the rounds to campaign events of many Republican candidates offering words of encouragement. 

Rand Paul received a coveted endorsement from Iowa’s senior Republican Senator Chuck Grassley hours before the state’s caucus. Grassley has served in the U.S. Senate since 1981, and is the current chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Grassley said during a rally for Paul that he chose to endorse him for four key reasons: His liberty-minded ideological approach, innovative thinking, dedication to inclusivity, and his outreach efforts aimed at growing the Republican Party.

“In my interactions with him over the six years that he’s been in the United States senate, I think he approaches things in a very thoughtful way. He’s very innovative,” said Grassley of Paul, who he has worked with on several pieces of legislation, including ethanol reform – a subject pertinent to Iowans.

“From a political standpoint and the standpoint of the success of the Republican Party in future years, we have to be more inclusive,” said Grassley. “And from that standpoint, [Paul] has led the path more than any other Republican in the United States Senate. [He] reaches out to groups that aren’t naturally part of the Republican Party,” Grassley added.

This endorsement is a coup for Paul, who has seen his fortunes rise in Iowa according to several recent polls. Paul gladly accepted his colleague’s endorsement, saying, “Senator Grassley and I have worked together on several pieces of legislation, and I think [he’s] exceptional in the sense that he’s not just a cookie cutter brand of what it means to be a conservative.”

Paul hopes to surprise in Iowa with a higher turnout than many polls have shown. As Rare reported, a poll released Sunday shows him in first place among Iowa voters who are under 30 and those who were reached on their cell phones.

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