U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst will be out of town for two weeks during the hotly contested general election campaign.
But she has a good reason: Ernst, a battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, will be deployed for active duty annual training.
An Iowa state senator and Lt. Colonel in the Iowa National Guard, Ernst, 43, is a former U.S. Army Reservist who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Ernst started of as an underdog in the GOP primary, until she released her famous ad about growing up "castrating hogs on an Iowa farm," a life experience she claimed would allow her to cut the pork and make the big spenders squeal. Endorsed by Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, Ernst wound up winning the June 3 GOP primary for U.S. Senate in a landslide.
Ernst stirred up a controversy in May during a candidates debate when she referred to the Isla Vista, Calif., mass shooting as an "unfortunate accident," although first calling it a horrible tragedy. The opposition pounced her gaffe. "She described Santa Barbara as an accident," a campaign operative said. "This was a rampage against women with knives and guns."
Her Democrat opponent, Bruce Braley, is an incumbent U.S. Congressman and trial lawyer. Braley also got himself into some difficulty when he was caught on tape during a fundraising event bashing farmers, perhaps forgetting that Iowa is farming state. He since apologized. During the government shutdown, Bruce Braley got into hot water, as it were, for complaining about the lack of towels in the House gym.
The Iowa Senate seat is being vacated by Tom Harkin, who is retiring.
In the GOP weekly address on Saturday, Ernst -- who is a foe of Obamacare and a gun rights activist -- stated in part,
"I'm a mother and grandmother, a soldier, and proud to be Iowa's Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. I get asked all the time what made me want to join the military. And the answer is simple. When I was attending college, I went on an agricultural exchange to the Soviet Union. And I saw with my own eyes what a nation without freedom looks like. I saw what happens to people when they lose their liberty. When I came home, I decided that it wasn't enough for me to simply enjoy freedom and liberty. I had to do my part to protect and preserve it..."If she prevails in November, Joni Ernst would be the first woman from Iowa ever elected to Congress.
[image credit: IowaPolitics.com]