Joni Ernst happy to campaign for Trump but wants to stay in the Senate

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst moved today to cut off speculation about becoming Donald Trump’s running mate. Politico’s Burgess Everett quoted Ernst as saying she “would love to assist [Trump] out on the trail” but had made “very clear” to him during their July 4 meeting that “I have a lot more to do in the United States Senate. And Iowa is where my heart is.”

Ernst will deliver one of the prime-time speeches during the Republican National Convention, Jeremy Peters and Maggie Haberman reported today for the New York Times, citing “three people with direct knowledge of the convention planning.” Her willingness to take such a prominent role stands in stark contrast to the Republican heavyweights who are skipping the show in Cleveland.

Pat Rynard observed at Iowa Starting Line that no other swing state’s Republican establishment is as firmly behind Trump as ours. He speculates that the cooperation could improve Trump’s chances to win Iowa (a competitive state by all accounts) as well as prospects for GOP candidates down-ticket.

I’m happy to roll the dice on that outcome in exchange for Ernst repeatedly, enthusiastically associating herself with this train wreck of a nominee. Just within the past few days, Trump spread an anti-Semitic Hillary Clinton meme white supremacists had created and praised Saddam Hussein for allegedly taking out terrorists efficiently. Multiple staffers have bailed out after short stints with his dysfunctional campaign. Going along to get along is the easy political call for Ernst now, but she may regret that choice when she’s running for re-election to the Senate in 2020.

Trump’s options for vice president are shrinking: Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has told Trump he’s not interested in the job, according to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa. I’m still pinning my hopes on Newt Gingrich.

UPDATE: Added below some of Ernst’s latest comments to Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson.

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Joni Ernst on Donald Trump's short list for vice president after all

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst met with Donald Trump today in New Jersey. The statement she released later said nothing about being his running mate. However, citing unnamed sources close to Trump’s campaign, CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Jim Acosta, and Sara Murray reported yesterday that Ernst “is being considered” for the vice presidential nomination.

In mid-June, Ernst told Iowa reporters she doubted she was on Trump’s short list, since no one from the campaign had reached out to her. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is now the leading candidate to be the GOP running mate, according to CNN’s sources, followed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. David M. Jackson reported for USA Today that Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is also under consideration. Others have mentioned Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, or perhaps Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.

In May, both Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley endorsed the idea of Ernst as Trump’s running mate. Though some see Iowa’s junior senator as a good fit for the GOP ticket, I think Trump would do better to choose someone with more governing and policy experience.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Gingrich, for maximum Hillary Clinton blowout potential. On the other hand, being closely associated with Trump would hurt Ernst politically in the long run, despite the initial boost to her stature. So I would welcome a Trump-Ernst ticket as well.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I enclose below today’s full statement from Ernst. My favorite part referred to ensuring the U.S. remains “a strong, stabilizing force around the globe.” Trump in the Oval Office would be the opposite of a stabilizing presence. Almost every week he makes some impulsive comment that could cause an international incident if he were president.

UPDATE: Pence met with Trump on July 2, Brian Slodysko reported for the Associated Press. A spokesperson for the Indiana governor, who endorsed Ted Cruz for president a few days before his state’s primary in April, said “nothing was offered” during Pence’s meeting with the presumptive GOP nominee. Pence would be a stronger running mate than Ernst, though why someone who may have his own presidential ambitions would want to hitch his wagon to Trump, I can’t imagine.

SECOND UPDATE: Sarah Boden reported for Iowa Public Radio on July 5 that Grassley again said Ernst would be a good running mate for Trump, citing her “military and legislative experience, and her expertise as someone from a rural, agricultural state.”

THIRD UPDATE: Added below excerpts from stories by Daniel Halper and Robert Costa about Trump considering one of his advisers, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn.

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