Iowa Senator Joni Ernst.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst gives the Republican response to the State of the Union address.

Iowa’s Joni Ernst, the first female combat veteran in the United States Senate, delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s “State of the Union” address this evening and began by using the moment to speak directly to voters.

“I’d like to talk about your priorities,” Ernst said. “…We heard the message you sent in November – loud and clear — and now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country.”

Ernst suggested the past six years — the six years Barack Obama has been president — have been laden with difficulties.

“For many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with Washington’s dysfunction weren’t things we had to read about. We felt them every day,” she said. “We felt them in Red Oak – the little town in southwestern Iowa where I grew up, and am still proud to call home today.”

Ernst said many American families feel as if they’re working harder and harder, with less and less to show for it, and she suggested with a “little cooperation” from the president, Republicans could pass solutions through congress.

“Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like ObamaCare. It’s a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions,” Ernst said. “That’s why the new Republican majority you elected started by reforming Congress to make it function again. And now, we’re working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve.”

Ernst listed ideas like approving the Keystone pipeline, cutting tax rates and eliminating trade barriers in Europe and the Pacific. She also mentioned her service in the Iowa National Guard and referenced the “serious work” ahead in congress to “debate strategies to confront terrorism.”

“The forces of violence and oppression don’t care about the innocent,” Ernst said. “We need a comprehensive plan to defeat them.”

Ernst closed by signaling that Republicans intend to “repeal and replace ObamaCare” and she said the Republican-led congress would “correct” the executive orders President Obama has issued.

Ernst drew attention from some quarters for the shoes she wore tonight — a pair of camouflage pumps, meant to draw attention to her status as a soldier as well as a senator. Ernst also shared a bit of her personal story during tonight’s nationally televised speech. She talked about her farm background, working the biscuit line at Hardees and wearing bread bags as a child over her “one good pair of shoes” to keep the mud off — stories she told during the 2014 campaign here in Iowa.