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.