Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst stressed an “Iowa nice” message today during a speech at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, with the underlying hint that her opponent may not always take that approach.
“It’s our Iowa way to walk across the street and help a neighbor in need and additionally when Iowans find themselves at odds with each other, the way we should do business is through words, amicably, with a handshake,” Ernst said.
Bruce Braley, the Democrat Ernst faces in November, and his wife recently had a dispute with a neighbor at the Braley’s vacation property in eastern Iowa. Carolyn Braley went to the Holiday Lake Owners Association meeting this spring to complain about the neighbor’s roving chickens. Congressman Braley called the association’s lawyer to say he wanted to avoid a “litigious situation”, but Braley stressed that he believed chickens are not pets.
Ernst was among the first speakers at the event in Ames which has attracted a crowd of Christian conservatives. Ernst is a Sunday School teacher and confirmation class leader in her home church in Stanton and she made a passage in the Bible, about two of Jesus’s disciples who did not recognize Jesus after his crucifixion and before his ascension, a focus in her speech.
“What this does is point out to me and I hope it points out to you also that in our everyday lives there is goodness around us and here in Iowa that is particularly true because we have Iowans that help other Iowans,” Ernst said. “That’s our way of doing business in this state.”
Ernst called her seven-minute speech to the crowd of Christian conservatives “a little detour’ from the campaign trail. Ernst closed with this.
“There is goodness, there is truth, there is support, there is love around each one of us in our daily lives, even though we may not see it,” Ernst said. “Believe me. It is right there in front of you.”
AUDIO of Ernst’s speech, 7:00
A spokesman for Braley issued a written statement in response.
“Whether it’s successfully fighting for assistance to homeowners during the devastating floods of 2008, or securing back pay for hundreds of Iowa National Guardsmen who had served in Iraq, Bruce has always fought for his Iowa neighbors,” said Sam Lau, a spokesman for Braley, who also suggested Ernst had limited the subject matter of her speech at today’s event to avoid talking about her “Tea Party ideas.”
Some other Republican candidates on November’s ballot were among the first speakers at today’s summit, including Governor Terry Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Congressman Steve King and Sam Clovis, the Republican candidate for state treasurer.
(This story was updated at 2:15 p.m. with additional information.)