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DES MOINES, Iowa – Former President Bill Clinton headlined two events in Iowa Saturday that underscored the importance of Iowa’s much-watched U.S. Senate race. And Clinton offered his own take on one Iowa candidate’s now famous “Make Em Squeal” ad.

Clinton led a rally in the early afternoon at the Brenton Skating Plaza in Des Moines for U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat and eastern Iowa congressman. During his remarks before a crowd of approximately 500, Clinton praised the castration-themed ad of Braley’s opponent, Republican Joni Ernst, a state senator from Red Oak.

But Clinton then added, “She said she wants to take her pork-cutting skills to Washington. Now that sounds good. But in order for it to work, you gotta know the difference between pork and people.”

Clinton continued, “I don’t want to hear minimum wage workers’ squeals. I don’t want to hear working class and middle class families squeal. I don’t want to hear college students squeal. I don’t want to hear seniors squeal.”

Photo Gallery: President Clinton, Bruce Braley, James Taylor Rally in Des Moines

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, also spoke at the rally. He stressed the importance of making sure Braley wins and holds onto the seat now held by retiring Senator Tom Harkin, a Cumming Democrat. Vilsack said, “Control of the United States Senate depends squarely on the outcome of this race between Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst.”

Jack Hatch, a Des Moines state senator and the Democrats’ nominee for governor, wasn’t part of the event. But Vilsack praised Hatch, who is losing badly in statewide polls against longtime Republican Governor Terry Branstad. Vilsack urged Iowans to end the “nightmare” of Branstad’s tenure in office.

Staci Appel, a former one-term state senator from Ackworth, and the party’s nominee for the Third Congressional District, also spoke. She acknowledged Iowans’ chance to make history this election by sending the state’s first woman to congress. Of course, Iowans could choose to do that by electing Ernst to the senate. But Appel urged them to instead make her race the one that brings history.  “Let me say, “Appel said, “Let’s not just elect any woman. Let’s elect the right woman.”

Legendary folk singer James Taylor provided a mini-concert at the event, as well, before his full concert at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena Saturday night.

Braley tried to weave music-themed lines into his own speech in tribute to Taylor. Braley said, “When you’re down, in trouble, and you need a helping hand. And nothing is going right. All you have to do is call. And as your senator, I’ll be there.”

Clinton also headlined Braley’s Tenth Annual Bruce, Blues and BBQ event in Waterloo Saturday night.