State Senator Joni Ernst provided Story County Republicans with the first public speech of her campaign for U.S. Senate. Speaking at the group’s annual fundraising dinner, held Monday evening at Hickory’s Hall in Ames, Ernst made it clear where she stands on three core issues for conservatives: abortion, gay marriage and the Second Amendment.
“I am running for U.S. Senate because I cherish innocent life. I believe that life begins at conception. I also believe in traditional marriage, marriage between one man and one woman,” Ernst said to applause from the crowd.
“The Second Amendment is more than words on a piece of paper,” she continued. “We have a right to keep and bear arms. Period. And as a lifetime member of the NRA, with an A rating, someone who has an Iowa concealed carry permit, who actually does carry, and as someone that is Army qualified on the 9 millimeter and M-16, I can guarantee you that when I go to Washington, D.C., I will continued to defend our shared Second Amendment rights.”
Ernst’s words, and life story, earned praise from the evening’s keynote speaker, Congressman Steve King. He recalled the first time he met Joni Ernst. Both Iowans were far away from their home state at the time. Ernst, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, was serving a tour in Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. King was visiting the Middle East to learn more about the situation on the ground.
“She had a handful of her troops there, and each one of them had something that they needed done at home and they couldn’t be there. So, hopefully, I carried out those things as best as I could,” King said, as Ernst replied affirmatively.
Congressman King promised Ernst that he would stop by her home in Red Oak and visit Ernst’s husband and four-year old daughter. When he fulfilled the promise, it left a lasting impression on the conservative congressman.
“I thought, here’s a woman that has given up a year of raising that little girl to serve our country. I’ll tell you, that has lived with me every since,” King said.
Ernst says taking care of our servicemen and women is something our country must do better. Joni Ernst is the former auditor for Montgomery County. During her 7 ½ minute speech, she also spent a few minutes discussing the impact of our most recession on her home county. The area had the second highest unemployment rate in the state. Ernst noted that the county rebounded by finding local solutions.
“I believe all of the values that I hold dear, things that I’ve fought for, for over 20 years, are being threatened by the failed policies of this president, and that’s why I’m running for U.S. Senate,” Ernst said.
Congressman King was not the only one impressed by Joni Ernst on Monday. Story County GOP Chairman Dane Nealson, who plans to remain neutral in the senate primary, believes Ernst made a strong case for her candidacy.
“This was my first time hearing her speak in person, and she delivered her message very well,” Nealson said. “She has a very impressive resume, and her experiences will serve her well in the race. I think she adds a new dynamic to the race that will be fun to watch.”
Other speakers at the Story County GOP dinner included Secretary of State Matt Schultz and State Auditor Mary Mosiman. Joni Ernst will hold her first official campaign rally Wednesday morning in Red Oak.
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