Ernst hopes Trump focuses Roast and Ride remarks on issues

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DES MOINES — When Donald Trump steps to the microphone Saturday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, his host, hopes the Republican presidential candidate focuses his comments on the issues that impact Iowans, and that his criticism of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton also remains issue-based, not personal.

Ernst’s second annual summer fundraiser, the Roast and Ride, will be held Saturday in Des Moines.

The event begins with a 42-mile motorcycle ride that benefits a veterans charity, then moves to the fairgrounds where Republican leaders, including Trump, will speak.

Last year’s inaugural event, held at the Farm Expo grounds in Boone, was held during the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses and featured seven Republican candidates.

This year’s big ticket is Trump, who did not appear at last year’s event.

Trump’s brash style of public speaking enamored him to millions of primary voters, even as it has drawn harsh criticism from many, including Republicans.

Trump’s bombast has continued into the general election campaign; this week he called Clinton a bigot.

Ernst said Friday she hopes Trump focuses on issues that can inspire Iowa voters to support him. The freshman senator also said she wants both Trump and Clinton to tone down what she called personal attacks during the campaign.

“I would say with both of them, because there have been a lot of barbs thrown at each other, is that they need to take this into a civil discourse. And we’re not seeing that right now,” Ernst told reporters Friday at the fairgrounds as organizers prepared for the event. “I don’t like it when candidates go in that direction. And I would say of both of them, back down and let’s really talk about policies and the issues. That’s my advice to them.”

Ernst said she thinks if Trump focuses on Clinton on issues like the economy and national security instead of personal attacks, that will make a bigger impact with Iowa voters.

“He needs to say a lot of things, but I think focusing on Iowa right now is going to be very, very important,” Ernst said. “He needs to talk about what we can do in the state, jobs and the economy. … If he really focuses on those things, he’s going to catch a lot of attention.”

Most polls in Iowa have showed a close race here between Trump and Clinton, making it one of the few true swing states thus far in the election.

“I think (Trump) is doing quite well in Iowa. I am hopeful that Iowa goes his direction,” Ernst said. “He speaks in a way that resonates with millions of Americans, and Iowans aren’t immune to that. It’s exciting to see that, shaking things up a little bit.”

Organizers said they do not have an anticipated crowd figure, but the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion in which the event will be held can hold a little more than 2,000 people.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Gov. Terry Branstad, and all of Iowa’s Congressional members and candidates also will speak at the event, as will U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska. 

Joni Ernst’s second annual Roast and Ride

Motorcycle ride: 11 a.m. kickoff at Big Barn Harley-Davidson, Des Moines

Pork roast: 1 p.m. at Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines

Tickets: $20 for adults, $12 for children

The pork roast includes family-friendly entertainment and speakers.

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