Freshman Senator Joni Ernst is about to Make ‘em squeal” – Democrats and the President that is. Yesterday, Republican leadership tapped her to provide the party’s rebuttal to President Obama’s annual State of the Union address next Tuesday evening. This honor promises to thrust her onto the national spotlight and cement her notoriety as a rising star in the conservative movement.
Ernst is charting new paths. She is the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress. She is not the first woman to deliver the GOP response to the SOTU (Cathy McMorris Rodgers gave it last year) but Ernst will be the first, first year Senator to give the rebuttal, according to her office. She will provide a counter-point to what promises to be another laundry list of expansionary polices the President plans to achieve on immigration, wages, higher education, the environment, and other social justice issues. His tool of choice will be his pen – so far his hand hasn’t tired of using it to, in effect, enact law apart from Congress and the Constitution.
Ernst first came to national fame following her famous Iowa Senate campaign TV ad when she vowed to use her hog-castrating skills to stop lawmakers in Washington from wasting taxpayer money. "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm," she said. "So when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork. Washington's full of big spenders. Let's make 'em squeal." Ernst then went on to defeat Democrat Bruce Braley, who was supposed to inherit the Iowa Senate seat from retiring Sen. Tom Harkin.
The Des Moines Register reports:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday pegged Ernst, an Iowa Republican elected in November, for the nationally prominent speaking role.
In picking Ernst, McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, emphasized her commitment to the middle class and suggested her remarks would focus on GOP efforts to address middle-class families' needs.
"Sen. Ernst's life is a quintessential 'only-in-America' story," Boehner said in a statement. "She built a campaign by listening to the people of Iowa and focusing on their priorities, especially jobs and our still-struggling economy."
“I am truly humbled and honored to have this opportunity to deliver the Republican address. It is a long way from Red Oak to Washington, DC,” she said. “Growing up on a southwest Iowa farm years ago I never, never would have imagined that I would have this opportunity.”
During President Obama’s tenure, the Republican rebuttals have had few memorable moments, but those who made them were. No one can forget Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s awkward reach off camera for water in the middle of his rebuttal. It went viral for all of the wrong reasons. Rubio congratulated Ernst in a tweet with a water bottle picture and advice to drink lots of water.
Kudos to Senator Ernst for being given this huge opportunity. It’s a sign that leadership wants to put forward a new image of the party. What better than a fresh-faced woman, who hasn’t been tainted by the politics of Washington? It’s also a nod to an outreach to female candidates and voters that continues the showcasing of GOP women that we saw in the mid-term elections.
We’ll follow-up on the State of the Union and Ernst’s response next week.