Ernst says governor can offer ‘direct comparison’ in response to Biden’s speech

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says “it’s astounding” that in less than a decade “two Republican women from Iowa” have been chosen to deliver the GOP’s response to a Democratic president’s State of the Union address.

Ernst spoke in 2015 after President Obama’s speech to congress. Tonight, Governor Kim Reynolds is scheduled to deliver the Republican rebuttal to President Biden’s State of the Union address.

“I just think she has an incredible story to tell about how she has led Iowa through so many different challenges,” Ernst said, “and she can do a direct comparison to Iowa, our strong economy, how we’ve led through COVID-19 and compare that to President Biden’s disastrous time thus far in office.”

Ernst had been a senator for just days when she gave the televised address shortly after Republicans took majority control of both the House and Senate in 2015. Ernst said she is not offering an advice to Reynolds about what to say eight years later.

“I know she is going to do a great job,” Ernst said. “No pressure coming from me.”

The Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate select the person who’ll speak after a Democratic president’s State of the Union address. Ernst, who is among the GOP leadership in the U.S. Senate, said she had no role in lobbying for Reynolds to get the slot.

“I didn’t have to make a recommendation because she shines all on her own,” Ernst said. “Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy came to that conclusion all on their own. She’s just an outstanding leader.”

Twenty-eight states are led by Republican governors, but Reynolds is one of just three Republican women who’re serving as governors today. Ernst said speaking on behalf of the national party tomorrow night will bring national attention to Reynolds, who is seeking reelection in 2022, “and that will help in that race, but it also raises awareness of Iowa, our First In The Nation status, the fact that we do turn out tremendous leaders like Governor Reynolds and it brings attention to our legislators in the statehouse and at the federal level.”

Republicans hold five of the six spots in Iowa’s congressional delegation and Republicans in the state legislature have just sent Reynolds a big tax cut package. Reynolds will sign that into law  this afternoon.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s unclear how much of President Biden’s speech will be spent on domestic issues. Ernst said Reynolds “can cover it all” in her speech, regardless of what Biden may say beforehand.

“In my estimation, he’s failed on the economy, he’s failed on COVID, he has failed on foreign policy and Kim will be able to cover of of that within one speech,” Ernst said, “just how we’ve been so supportive of our military men and women in the state of Iowa and really done quite well through COVID and the overall economy.”

Iowa Democrats like Senate Minority leader Zach Wahls have been saying Reynolds needs to thank President Biden for the pandemic relief he and Democrats in congress approved for the State of Iowa. Wahls said in a tweet that Reynolds was “publicly opposed” to the spending, but has been “happy to take credit for doling out the dollars.”