Joni Ernst campaigned at an Urbandale restaurant this morning.

Joni Ernst campaigned at an Urbandale restaurant this morning.

Republican Joni Ernst says she has no reservations about having organizations that oppose ethanol help raise money for her U.S. Senate campaign.

Ernst will appear Wednesday at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser sponsored by the political action committees for ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute. Ernst was asked this morning if she felt “uncomfortable” attending a fundraiser sponsored by ethanol critics.

“I don’t feel uncomfortable because they know where I stand with the Renewable Fuels Standard,” Ernst said. “I stand firmly behind that and my record in the Iowa Senate backs that up.”

A new ad blasts Ernst for not refusing the campaign contributions from an “army of lobbyists” representing “big oil.” Ernst has said she’s philosophically opposed to taxpayer subsidies for ethanol, but would support them until tax subsidies are eliminated “for every sector.”

Ernst is the subject of another ad which calls her an “extremist” who would privatize Social Security.

“Oh for heaven sakes,” Ernst said this morning when asked about the label. “I am not extreme, I’ll tell you that.”

Ernst said promises made to seniors who are getting Social Security benefits today must be kept, but she is open to changes for future generations.

“We need to look at solutions moving forward to make sure that my daughters and my grandchildren, all of our children and grandchildren, have that same Social Security system or a semblance of that,” Ernst said. “Whatever form that is in, we have to make sure it’s there for our children and grandchildren.”

Ernst, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard, returned to the Iowa campaign trail today after two weeks of active duty spent training in Wisconsin.  Listen to audio from her campaign speech and news conference here.

In other news from Iowa’s U.S. Senate race, Democracy for America — the group founded by former presidential candidate Howard Dean — has endorsed Democrat Bruce Braley. Over the weekend, Politico — a D.C.-based publication — reported the Braley campaign recently replaced its ad maker and pollster.