October 24, 2014

Ernst declines invitations from editorial boards of five Iowa newspapers

Joni Ernst

Joni Ernst

Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, has declined invitations to speak with a handful of Iowa newspaper editorial boards, decisions that became public Thursday morning after The Des Moines Register revealed Ernst had cancelled a Thursday appointment with the paper’s editorial writers.

Sarah Benzing is the campaign manager for Bruce Braley — Ernst’s Democratic opponent — and Benzing spoke during a conference call arranged by the campaign Thursday afternoon.

“We don’t hide from questions or fail to have an open and honest debate,” Benzing said. “We talk about the issues, we lay out where we stand and that’s exactly what voters deserve from Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley.”

Braley’s campaign manager suggested Ernst is trying to avoid unscripted moments.

“It’s one thing to stick to talking points at events,” Benzing said. “It’s another to sit down with an ed board and answer tough questions.”

Ernst answered the questions of reporters from Radio Iowa and other media outlets, including The Register, twice this week after campaign events in Boone and Des Moines. Ernst campaign spokesperson Gretchen Hamel says “recent editorials in The Des Moines Register make their position in this race perfectly clear” and the Ernst campaign decided with less than 12 days to go, Ernst “wants to spend every minute talking to undecided voters.”

Ernst also declined to meet with editorial writers for The Cedar Rapids Gazette, The Dubuque Telegraph Herald, The Quad-City Times and The Waterloo Courier. Ernst won The Des Moines Register’s endorsement during the Republican Primary in June, but the Ernst campaign cites five recent editorials in the newspaper that criticized Ernst’s past statements or positions on issues for leading to the campaign’s decision to cancel a meeting with the paper’s editorial board.

The Des Moines Register endorsed Mitt Romney late in the 2012 campaign after Romney met with the paper’s editorial writers in a barn on a farm near Adel. President Obama had granted the paper an off-the-record interview that became public after the paper’s lead editor concluded Obama’s statements about his post-election agenda were newsworthy and merited publication.

Ernst touts enthusiasm edge for GOP

Joni Ernst

Joni Ernst

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Iowa’s U.S. Senate race could be headed for a “photo finish” with Republican Joni Ernst at 48 percent and Democrat Bruce Braley at 46. The survey shows Braley with a wide lead among early voters, as 58 percent of those who’ve already voted told the pollsters they voted for Braley, while 37 said they had voted for Ernst. Ernst says that’s not worrisome to her.

“We have got some great grassroots out there and so many supporters,” Ernst told reporters this morning. “A lot of Republican voters will typically go out to the polls on Election Day.”

Iowa Republicans announced Wednesday that for the first time, more Republicans than Democrats have voted early. Democrats argue they’re getting independents to cast a vote for the Democratic ticket. Ernst says Republicans have the enthusiasm edge.

“I guess last night over at the ‘Victory Office’ there were more volunteers than phones,” Ernst says. “People are so energized right now.”

Ernst spoke early this morning to the Greater Des Moines Partnership, a group representing 21 central Iowa chambers of commerce, and she repeatedly referred to her “opponent.”

“I don’t want to get his name wrong,” Ernst said, as the crowd of about 20 laughed. “Unfortunately, you know, it’s become a big joke and I’m afraid I’m actually going to call him the wrong name.”

Earlier this month First Lady Michelle Obama called Braley “Bailey” seven times before the crowd at Drake University corrected her. Obama was in Iowa City Tuesday and she joked that she often calls her daughters and the family dog by the wrong name, too.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is campaigning with Ernst today and he told the crowd it was out of “self-interest” because he’ll become a Senate subcommittee chairman if Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate.

“The best thing I can do for South Carolina, I think, is get the Senate under new management. It’s broken, fundamentally broken. I think she is the solution, not the problem” Graham told reporters. “…Her voice, the voice of a military commander — would be a welcome addition.”

Ernst is a battalion commander in the Iowa National Guard. Eighteen senators are military veterans, according to a Roll Call analysis, and Ernst would become a veteran if she’s elected. Ernst has said she’d have to resign her post in the Iowa National Guard if she wins this Senate race.

 

Republican Rand Paul campaigns in Iowa; Vice President Biden returning Monday

Rand Paul

Rand Paul

Big names from both parties are visiting the state in the final weeks before the November 4th election. Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul is in Iowa to rally support for Republican candidates up and down the ticket. Speaking today at the University of Northern Iowa on behalf of First District candidate Rod Blum, Paul says he believes Republicans will do well in the upcoming election..

“In Kentucky where I’m from, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate can’t remember who she voted for for President, and then you come to Iowa and everybody comes here campaigning for the Democrat but they can’t remember his name either, ” Paul says, “I really do wish the best to Bruce Bailey well, I hope that Bruce Bailey does well.”

Paul was making reference to an appearance by First Lady Michele Obama earlier this month when she called Bruce Braley “Bruce Bailey.” Senator Paul has several appearances scheduled in the next day and a half including one to endorse Republican Joni Ernst in the U.S. Senate race.

Texas Governor Rick Perry will be in Marion tomorrow for a campaign rally with Ernst. Braley’s campaign reports Vice President Joe Biden will appear with Braley in Davenport on Monday.

Huckabee campaigns for Republican Senate candidate Ernst

Joni Ernst and Mike Huckabee in Sioux City.

Joni Ernst and Mike Huckabee in Sioux City.

The winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican Caucuses was in Iowa Tuesday campaigning for US. Senate candidate Joni Ernst.

Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee campaigned in Sioux City, where he says electing Ernst to the Senate is not only important for Iowa, but also for the whole nation.

“She’ll be the first woman to be elected as any member of the Congressional delegation in all of Iowa. But it’s not just because she is a female that she deserves to be elected,” Huckabee says. “That’s important, I think women should have far greater representation in the House and Senate and executive offices across the land. This isn’t about electing her just because of her gender. This is about electing her because of her superior ideas and qualifications.”

Huckabee says if Republicans gain control of the Senate that means legislation will actually make it through congress. “Harry Reed has created nothing less than the Roach Motel of the U.S. Senate, where bills go in but they never come out,” Huckabee says. He says some 360 bills have passed, but they have never left Reed’s office for discussion, debate or a vote.

It was the first of two stops for Huckabee and Ernst, as they also campaigned in Council Bluffs. Ernst is running against Democrat Bruce Braley.

(Reporting and photo by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)

 

First Lady returns to Iowa to campaign for Braley’s Senate bid

MIchele Obama at Drake University.

Michele Obama during an appearance October 10th at Drake University.

First Lady Michele Obama returned to Iowa today to appear at a campaign rally at the University of Iowa for Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

Obama drew national attention 11 days ago when she appeared at a rally for Braley at Drake University in Des Moines and urged the crowed to support “Bruce Bailey” seven times before being corrected.

Obama addressed that gaffe right away by twice saying emphatically she was there to support “Bruce Braley.” “Some of you may remember the last time I was here,” Obama said and someone in the crowd shouted ‘You got it right.” She replied, “No, I got it wrong, a couple of times. But, I sort of laughed to myself because I though people should follow me home. Talk to Malia and Sasha, because I never call them the right names. I call Barack Bo, it just never works out very well,” Obama laughed.

She said the mistaken name didn’t matter. “Although I may’ve slipped up on Bruce’s name a couple of times, what I know I got right are Bruce’s values. That’s really what matters in these elections,” Obama said. Obama touted the efforts she said Braley has made to make college more affordable and accessible to students.

She went on to push the same theme as her last visit, the Democrats need young people to turn out and vote, citing the influence of young voters in her husband’s two presidential campaigns. “For years folks counted young people out. That was the conventional wisdom, that young people don’t care, that young people don’t show up for elections. But, boy did you’all prove ‘em wrong for Barrack Obama,” she said.

Obama says the margin of victory for her husband in the 2012 presidential race in Iowa worked out to just 27 votes for each precinct in the state. “I want young people to really hear that number, that’s just 27 votes. That’s why voting matters,” Obama says. She encouraged the young people to go an vote right after the event and told them to get their friends to register and also vote.

Braley is locked in a tight race with Republican Joni Ernst. Ernst is making stops today in Sioux City and Council Bluffs with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The First Lady has been out campaigning for Democrats, but the president is making very few appearances.

Governor Terry Branstad said today Republicans are going to benefit from the president’s poor approval rating. “The country is going in the wrong direction. The national debt is approaching 18 Trillion dollars, so we think we have a real opportunity in all four of the congressional districts, as well as winning this Senate seat. Joni Ernst is a great candidate in the United States Senate,” Branstad said.

Branstad says there is a clear contrast between Braley and Ernst. “You have somebody who spent all his elected life in Washington, D.C., he’s a congressman, a trial lawyer who said bad things about Senator Grassley and Iowa farmers, versus a woman who grew up working hard on a farm and had a lot of responsibility at an early age, and now has become a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard. And you don’t get to become a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard without significant leadership abilities,” Branstad said.

Branstad said he is happy to see the National Republican Party is putting money into the Iowa races, indicating the closeness of the races.

 

Michelle Obama in for Braley, Mike Huckabee in for Ernst today

First Lady Michele Obama returns to Iowa today to campaign for Democrat Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

First Lady Michele Obama returns to Iowa today to campaign for Democrat Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

Prominent party voices continue to stream into Iowa to campaign with the two major party candidates for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat.

First Lady Michelle Obama will headline a rally at the University of Iowa today with Democrat Bruce Braley. Last week Republican Joni Ernst’s campaign sent out video links of late-night comics who’ve made fun of the first lady for misstating Braley’s name seven times during an event at Drake University. Ernst herself brought it up with reporters on Monday.

“This is kind of her ‘Mulligan’ event, I think, to try and get things right after she messed up so badly the last time she was in town,” Ernst said.

On Wednesday evening, Ernst will be on the University of Iowa campus for a rally with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will make stops in Sioux City and Council Bluffs today with Ernst.

During her solo stops, Ernst is stressing her work as a Republican state senator. Braley’s been traveling the state focusing attention on issues like retirement security. On Sunday during a rally in Des Moines, Braley got a big crowd reaction with this statement: “Unlike Joni Ernst, I will never ever vote to privatize your Social Security.”

Ernst has said it might be an option for younger workers. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a rising populist voice in the Democratic Party, campaigned alongside Braley on Sunday. A dozen current members of the U.S. Senate have flown to Iowa this year to campaign on behalf of either Braley or Ernst and that pace will continue through Election Day.

Branstad punchline aimed at Braley (AUDIO)

State Representative Chip Baltimore listens as Governor Terry Branstad speaks.

State Representative Chip Baltimore (left) listens as Governor Terry Branstad speaks.

A state legislator from Boone and Governor Terry Branstad drew peals of laughter from a crowd in Boone today with a couple of quips aimed at Bruce Braley, the Democrat who is running for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat. State Representative Chip Baltimore, who is an attorney, got things started as he thanked the 50 Republicans in the room for showing up.

“I know there’s a lot of farmers in the field and I know that probably as you came in, you probably saw a few trial lawyers out there on combines, too,” Baltimore said.

As the crowd laughed at Baltimore’s reference to Braley’s remark about Senator Grassley’s status as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school,” Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and several people in the crowd yelled out “Bailey.” First Lady Michelle Obama’ called Braley “Bailey” seven times during a recent rally in Des Moines before the crowd corrected her.

Then, Governor Branstad, who also holds a law degree but describes himself as a “recovering” lawyer, closed the Boone event with this.

“Since you talked about lawyers and combines, do you know how many lawyers it takes to grease a combine?” Only one, but you’ve got to feed him in real slow,” Branstad said, as the crowd hooted and applauded.

Braley opponent Joni Ernst was there as well and, while she laughed, she did not add her own joke to the mix. Ernst had earlier promised the crowd she’d visit all 99 counties each year if she’s elected, just like Senator Chuck Grassley does. Ernst is in the midst of a 99-county tour of the state, with 49 counties to go before Election Day.

AUDIO of Baltimore, Reynolds, Branstad and crowd in Boone, 2:00