When asked how President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic might impact her reelection race, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst was confident his response to the public health crisis will help her secure a second term.
“I think the president has actually handled it quite well, so I think it helps,” Ernst said, according to CNN. “I think he took some really great initial steps … the left was just hammering him on that and it was the right thing to do. And so, I think the president has done quite well.”
FiveThirtyEight’s ongoing look at recent polling related to Trump and the pandemic show 52.6% of Americans disapprove of the president’s response to the crisis compared to 43.3% who approve. Among Independents, only 38.9% like how he has responded.
CNN’s Manu Raju focused his article on “Senate Republicans in difficult reelection races,” including Ernst, Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine.
“GOP senators and Democrats both believe that the November elections will be a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic and voters’ views about the economy and whether it’s able to rebound by the fall,” Raju reported.
He noted the GOP’s “message of attacking China” as an example of how the party is attempting to turn attention away from Trump’s response to the pandemic and shift the blame for more than 91,000 American deaths and 1.5 million positive cases. Ernst has employed this strategy on conference calls with Iowa press, in television interviews and Facebook Live forums.
During a town hall meeting April 29 with 3rd District candidate David Young, both centered their talking points for the evening on China and the role critics believe its government played in worsening outbreaks of COVID-19.
“The slow and inadequate response from our leaders at the state and federal level continues to put lives at risk,” said Iowa Forward spokesperson Mazie Stilwell. “It’s time for Sen. Ernst to take action to protect access to health care and ensure our state and local governments have federal funding that will help keep communities safe and healthy.”
In 2020, the GOP-controlled Senate is defending 23 seats compared to Democrats’ 12. On June 2, at the conclusion of Iowa’s primary elections, Ernst will find out who she will compete against in the fall.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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