ADEL, Iowa – Jon Ernst scarcely had a town hall fired on one morning here recently when the plea of complaints about Donald Trump began.
One by one, voters pressed to the microphone to grill the first Republican senator over the president – his attacks on John McCain, his declaration of urgency at the border, and why, according to several voters, Ernst did not resist him more often.
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"Other Sena Doors advocate criticizing Trump and defending McCain, but I have not heard a word from you yet, "a man pleaded with them." Is that there is no line that Trump can cross that would lead to You break with him? "
Ernst kept her calm as she answered the 30 people who went to a high school auditorium on the outskirts of Des Moines to hear them. However, she said emphatically, "Oh, I'm breaking a lot with President Trump." After defending McCain, she said, "Right there – there you have it."
Ernst gets used to it better. At the same time she is preparing for re-election. Democratic presidential candidates will camp in Iowa and beat Trump every round. The President's heightened attention will test Ernst's political agility, which has generally earned high scores in the state, but must lament for Trump, whose poll ratings linger behind his and some of his unpopular policies.
Ernst was elected to the Senate in 2014 under completely different circumstances. The 48-year-old fighting veteran was an independent Republican who wanted to cut government spending and fight against democratic superiority. But next year she will be voting with Trump, whose tariffs have violated the country's state agriculture, and whose tax deductions covered by Ernst have increased the deficit and not reduced it.
Ernst, known in the Senate for her casual demeanor and her willingness to work with Democrats, is preferred. Their race is a top priority for Senate Republicans, not only because they hold a narrow majority by 2020, but because Ernst is one of the few women in their ranks – and one of the most promising perspectives of both genders. In November, she was the first Republican to have been elected to the Senate's GOP leadership for eight years, and she is one of two Republican women in the Senate's powerful Judiciary Committee, which did not have GOP women until this year.
But her re-election in the Conservative Party The condition in which Trump easily supported in 2016 is not a matter of course. The Democrats have changed two seats held by GOP in Iowa last year and Trump's approval has dropped as its trade wars continue to expand. Barack Obama twice won the state, and Ernst's predecessor, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, represented the state for three decades.
"There are only two ways to walk – one is casual and the other is scared, so she has to be prepared I think she will," said Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas). Iowa, he added, "is not a ruby state."
Ernst advocates warm and down-to-earth behavior: When she faces the voters, she is calm and allows them to end their thoughts. She answers by explaining her perspective, referring to voters by their first name, as if talking to a friend.
In her first term, she deals with issues that concern veterans and women Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) about a bill that provides training for preventing sexual assault for new relatives of the military, and a collaboration with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on the re-authorization of the law against violence against women. She is also known in the Senate for her monthly "Squeal Award," designed to lavish government spending.
"I like Joni, I like working with her," said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). one of the most progressive members of the Democratic Party, who sits seriously on the Armed Services Committee. " We have our differences, [but] I think she's thoughtful and focuses on the things she's interested in."
Ernst's poll ratings in Iowa vary, but are now strong. In February, it had a 57 percent approval, according to a report by Des Moines / Mediacom Iowa, an increase of 47 percent in September. According to this survey, their approval has fluctuated around 50 percent in the last two years.
On the other hand, Trump has dropped its net approval rating in Iowa by 20 points since taking office, according to Morning Consult. The February survey of the Des Moines register found that 50 percent of Iowa Trump voters disapproved, while 46 percent of respondents agreed.
Ernst was a reliable choice for most of Trump's agenda. It has supported its nominees for the judiciary and executive departments, the GOP tax reduction plan and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. More recently, she joined the president in his national emergency declaration for the construction of a border wall, even as a dozen other Republicans opposed this move.
Seriously, however, has broken with Trump on some issues. It opposed the government's ban on serving transgender people in the military and criticized its trade policy and its impact on farmers. She also supported an amendment this year against Trump's planned "abrupt withdrawal" of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Former Democratic Governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, who recently said he would not stand up to Ernst, says the Democrats should make a referendum on whether Ernst redeems their promise to shake Washington.
"It was essentially a trailblazer for many of the Trump policies that are not particularly good for Iowa," Vilsack said in an interview.
Democrat Rob Sand, who was recently elected state auditor and is considered a potential challenger to Ernst, said that it represents the biggest weakness for the party line.
"She sold herself as a Harley-bearing, firing, porcine person who would really stand up and be tough and she was not tough," said Sand, referring to Ernst's virus from 2014 in which she boasted with her story of neutering pigs, as a metaphor for how she had cut the government's waste. "She only accepts orders from Mitch McConnell."
Trump's trade war with China is a major problem in Iowa Customs have shaken the state's soybean industry, a large part of Iowa's economy, and Iowa State University said last year, tariffs could cost state farmers up to $ 2.2 billion in revenue.
Ernst points on trade as an area in which she disapproves of Trump, who belonged to a group of senators who had adopted a law in February according to which the Ministry of Defense had to justify customs duties on grounds of national security.
"What he does with the tariffs has been very harsh for our agribusiness and so I'm constantly pushing the administration – we focus on the settlement of trade agreements. Let's move. Let's move. We want a good deal, but let's move, "she said, adding that her good relationship with Trump is a boon to the state. "I mean, he will answer my calls."
Ernst attributed Trump's declining popularity in the state partly to his trade war. Although she is confident that President Iowa will wear again, she warns that it will be much harder if Trump does not enter into trade agreements to break the current deadlock with China.
J.B. Chairman of the Democratic Senate PAC chair, Poersch, said the rising trade deficit could also pull Ernst down. The United States had a record trade deficit with China in 2018. These numbers improved somewhat in January and China agreed to increase the purchase of soybeans in trade negotiations.
are all remarkably high and have deteriorated significantly in a republican government, as the Republicans ruled everything, "said Poersch. "That was what she considered her central strategic issue."
Ernst's race in a battlefield state comes at a time when her party desperately needs it.
Republicans struggled to recruit female candidates and hear female voters. The issue was expressed during the Supreme Court's confirmation hearing, Brett Kavanaugh, when a group of Republican whites in Senate Judiciary Committee incited Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault during high school. He denied the claim.
"In some of the biggest fights, it's obvious we had people who look like me and not enough people like them," said Cornyn, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Fellow Iowa, Republican Senator. Chuck Grassley said Ernst "solved our problems by being a good Republican senator and encouraging other women to act as role models."
In 2014 Ernst emphasized that she "did not run after my sex." But she managed to become the first woman to be elected from Iowa to the Federal Office. Since then, Iowa has chosen its first female spokeswoman, Linda Upmeyer, and the first female governor, Kim Reynolds.
"I think it undermines the democratic rhetoric that there is somehow a war against women," said Jeff Kaufmann, chairwoman of the Iowa Republican Party. "If there is a war here, we have women as our generals."
Ernst also became personally aware of her own experiences of sexual assault under public divorce.
"It was very hard, I would say, I tell my own story," she said, "It was important for me to acknowledge and, hopefully, inspire other men and women, because it's not just women, it's also men who go through this. "
Ernst says her party can attract more voters from the suburbs by paying attention to issues that affect them, such as the cost of medicines.
Upmeyer, the first house spokeswoman for Iowa, Ernst says he is a role model for other female politicians in Iowa
a divorce or even the struggle to climb the ladder and have the opportunity to be a US Senator, "she said, women" can refer to. "