Republican Senator Joni Ernst is agreeing with Donald Trump’s assessment that U.S. military commanders have been “reduced to rubble” during the Obama Administration.
“I hate to say it, but I do think a number of our generals have been really hamstrung by the politics of the situation that we are in right now,” Ernst said this morning.
Ernst recently retired after serving 23 years in the Iowa National Guard and this summer Trump considered her as a potential running mate. Trump said last night during a “Commander-in-Chief” forum on NBC that he probably would fire some generals. Ernst said there are “tremendous leaders in the military,” but Ernst said if Trump wins the presidency, he’ll need to surround himself with generals who will give him a “straight answer.”
“Should he become president, he needs to evaluate that leadership and see who are the effective leaders within the military community and those are the ones that he’ll want to see he can trust,” Ernst said.
Iowa native Doug Elmets, a Republican who was an intern for Senator Grassley and worked in Ronald Reagan’s administration, calls it “astonishing” that Trump would “disparage American generals.”
“When people go into the polling booth on November 8, they’re going to want to vote for somebody with a steady hand,” Elmets said today. “And that person, I believe, is Hillary Clinton.”
Elmets, who has never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate before, endorsed Clinton this summer and was invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention. “Of course there are a few of my Republican colleagues who think I’ve lost my mind, but as the campaign has continued on and Donald Trump’s crazy speak continued to spew, I think that they are beginning to realize that in the context of this campaign there’s no question that Hillary Clinton is more qualified than he is to be president.”
Elmets is in Iowa today, speaking at events organized by the Clinton campaign. Senator Ernst spoke with Iowa reporters in a conference call this morning, addressing topics from last night’s presidential candidate forum, including sexual assault in the military. Ernst said sexual assault is “never okay,” wherever it happens — and she said it’s not just assaults in which men attack women, but when men attack other men or when women attack other women.
“What we need to focus on is the actual prevention of those heinous acts,” Ernst said.
Ernst did not directly respond to Trump’s assertion that sexual assault should have been expected “when they put men and women together” in the military, but Ernst told reporters she “feels very strongly” about women being able to serve in the armed forces. Ernst did respond to Trump’s comment that Russian President Putin is a “better leader” than President Obama.
“We used to be a very, very strong nation and great leadership here and we want to see that again,” Ernst said. “Many of our allies are very concerned about that. I know the people in Iowa are very concerned about that lack of leadership, so I think that’s the greater question right now: ‘Where is America’s leadership and where do we go from this point?'”
And Ernst told reporters Putin is “absolutely not a role model for Americans.”