Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst will meet Sunday at Simpson College for the first of three, face-to-face debates between the U.S. Senate candidates.
Ernst participated in dozens of joint appearances and debates during the GOP primary season, but Ernst said she’s been “studying” this week to prepare for Sunday.
“We are going to draw a very clear contrast between who Congressman Braley is and who I am,” Ernst told Radio Iowa during an interview earlier this week.
Braley rallied with Democrats in Marshalltown on Thursday, to tout early voting and he alluded to the stakes in the race.
“Believe me, I feel the significance of carrying on Tom Harkin’s legacy,” Braley said.
Harkin, a Democrat, has held one of Iowa’s U.S. Senate seats for nearly 30 years, but announced in January of last year that he would not seek reelection. Sunday’s debate will give the candidates a forum to make their case directly to voters over the course of an hour. The candidates and their allies have been trying to sway voters this summer with a barrage of 30- and 60-second ads. An analysis by eight Iowa newspapers estimates nearly $14 million has been spent on campaign advertising in the race over the past three and a half months. Braley jokes about the ads attacking him.
“You know there’s some days when I watch these ads and I worry about what my own family is thinking,” Braley said in Marshalltown Thursday.
Ernst told a crowd in Newton on Monday night that she’s withstood the barrage of negative ads and remains tied with Braley in nearly every poll taken of this race.
“We’re seeing through all of this and we’ll see who really does care about Iowans and the direction that our country goes,” Ernst said in Newton Monday night.
The Register plans to release a poll on the race this Saturday at 7 0.m.