| Jocelyn Augustino, American Media Institute

Tom Harkin: Rush Limbaugh is why you don’t trust Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is one of the most honest people in politics, former Iowa senator Tom Harkin said Friday.

“If all you’ve heard over the last 15 years is Rush Limbaugh and all the Tea Party right-wingers bash Hillary Clinton, tell outright lies and falsifications and innuendos — and in the social media, negatives things get out there a lot faster than positive things,” Harkin said at an event in Des Moines, “If that’s all you’ve heard, then that’s what you’d think.”

The longtime Hawkeye State politician, who endorsed Clinton for the Democratic nomination last summer, was addressing a mixed political group, including supporters of various campaigns, at an event held by the ONE Campaign, a non-profit founded by U2’s Bono to fight global poverty.

Clinton has battled widespread perceptions of untrustworthiness throughout her campaign. Polls conducted nationally and in several states have indicated that voters find her among the least-trustworthy politicians.

But Harkin said this perception is a result of Republican attacks and the nature of social media, not a reflection of Clinton’s record.

“I say this honestly, and I can look you in the eye: Hillary Clinton is one of the most honest, trustworthy and competent people I’ve ever worked with in my time in government,” Harkin said.

He pointed to Clinton’s showing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi as a testament to her integrity and trustworthiness.

Polls find that Clinton’s role in the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, as well as questions over her private e-mail use, have eroded voters’ trust in the candidate, who still leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 14 percentage points in Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polls. Although Democrats trust her more than Republicans by a significant margin, Clinton faces a steady challenge from Sanders' grassroots effort.

Harkin, who left the Senate last year after four decades in elected office, has served as a key surrogate for the Clinton campaign in Iowa since August. He refrained from endorsing any candidate in 2008 when Clinton faced then-Sen. Barack Obama.