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Ernst calls Trump an 'ally in the White House' in RNC convention speech

In this image from video, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks from Des Moines, Iowa, during the third night of the Republica
In this image from video, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks from Des Moines, Iowa, during the third night of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020.(Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)

Calling the 2020 election “a choice between two very different paths,” Sen. Joni Ernst praised President Donald Trump’s support for Iowa farmers and warned about the consequences for them under a Biden-Harris administration.

In remarks to the Republican National Committee national convention Wednesday evening, Ernst called the choices “freedom, prosperity and economic growth” offered by four more years of Trump and “an America where farmers are punished, jobs are destroyed and taxes crush the middle class” if Democrats Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris are elected.

Just as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds did Tuesday, Ernst praised Trump for his approval of a major disaster declaration in the aftermath of a hurricane-force derecho that hit Iowa Aug. 10. It made public assistance available to Iowa and local governments. It also made Linn County residents eligible for individual assistance, which is under review in other Iowa counties.

“We thought we had seen the worst,” the first-term senator said about flooding in 2008 when, as a member of the Iowa National Guard, Ernst was deployed to Cedar Rapids. “But, 12 years later, these same communities have faced an even more devastating disaster: the recent derecho storm.”

The theme of the convention Wednesday was “Land of Heroes,” and Ernst spoke of the heroes who stepped up in the aftermath of the storm that has caused at least $4 billion damage to Iowa.

“Houses, farms were destroyed. About one-third of our crops here were damaged,” she said in remarks that were pretaped for the convention being conducted virtually and in-person in Charlotte, N.C. “In some cases, these storms wiped out a lifetime of work, and yet Iowa farmers didn’t hesitate to grab their chain saws and check on their neighbors. Our farmers live every day with that sense of service. The stewards of the land — the ones who feed and fuel the world.”

For her, Ernst said, service is “more than a word to me — it’s a mission, a way of life.”

She called Trump “an ally in the White House” who scrapped the Obama-Biden administration’s “punishing” Waters of the United States rule that would have been a “nightmare” for farmers.

Trump also negotiated a new trade agreement with Japan and with Canada and Mexico, and implemented year-round sales of E15, gasoline that uses a higher percentage of ethanol.

In contrast, Biden and Harris are pushing the Green New Deal that “would destroy the agriculture industry” by essentially banning livestock production and eliminating gas-powered vehicles.

Democrats respond

In a prebuttal Wednesday afternoon, the Iowa Democratic Party and Ernst challenger Theresa Greenfield criticized Ernst for becoming a voice for her party in Washington rather than representing Iowans’ interests.

Six years ago, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Mark Smith said, Ernst ran on the “false promise that she would be different in Washington,” that she would be an independent leader for Iowa.

Instead, Greenfield said in a video message, Ernst “votes with Mitch McConnell 97 percent of the time.”

That’s correct, according to ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom, which found that Republican Rep. Steve King is the only member of the Iowa congressional delegation who doesn’t vote with their party leader at least 93 percent of the time.

Smith also criticized Ernst for being the “only vulnerable Republican incumbent senator who’s desperate enough to claim a prime-time speaking slot” at the convention. Polling has shown her to be in a tight race with Greenfield.

Also on the Democratic call, Lori Hunt, a health care advocate from Greene County, criticized Ernst’s votes against paid family leave and the Affordable Care Act, and opposing legislation to lower prescription drug costs for five years “before an election year flip-flop.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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