Joni Ernst Sells Out Iowa In RNC Speech

By Pat Rynard

August 26, 2020

Sen. Joni Ernst’s undying loyalty to Pres. Donald Trump was rewarded tonight with a high-profile speech at the Republican National Convention. She repaid Trump for the political boost to her reelection campaign by betraying the Iowans she’s serving, vouching for the President on the exact issues he has failed to deliver on for Iowa.

On topics of ethanol, trade and disaster relief support, Ernst credited Trump with sweeping successes for Iowa while leaving out huge aspects of his record, including ones that she’s been an outspoken opponent on.

Were you only to listen to Ernst’s Wednesday night speech, you might come away with the impression that Trump’s presidency has been an unqualified success for farmers who rely on ethanol production.

“He implemented the sale of E-15 fuel year-round,” Ernst told the country. “That means more choices for you at the pump, and more jobs for farmers in the heartland. This is something the Obama-Biden Administration failed to do in eight years.”

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Missing from her remarks were the many ways in which Trump has consistently undermined the biofuels industry. Ernst made no mention of the countless small refinery waivers that Trump’s EPA had approved, far more than the Obama-Biden Administration ever did. They’ve cost the country billions of gallons in ethanol production and caused several Iowa facilities to shut down.

Trump himself had just embarrassed Ernst on the topic earlier this month. When the President made a brief visit to Cedar Rapids to get an update on the derecho storm damage, Ernst took the chance to press Trump on gap-year waivers that were threatening to further damage ethanol production. Trump publicly told Ernst he would “speak to them myself” to get it fixed. Just days later, rather than taking action to deny those, the EPA announced dozens of new waivers they were considering.

It was yet one more instance where, despite all the political cover Ernst has given Trump, Iowa has gotten very little in real policy wins in exchange for that help and the access Ernst enjoys with the White House.

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Speaking of that brief Trump visit to Iowa, Ernst echoed Gov. Kim Reynolds in praising Trump’s help with the presidential disaster declaration.

“Pres. Trump quickly signed an emergency declaration for Iowa to provide relief,” Ernst said.

But like Reynolds, Ernst left out the part where Trump first blatantly lied by tweeting that he had signed the “FULL” request when in reality he had approved only $45 million of the $3.9 billion that Iowa asked for.

And Trump has only since approved the individual assistance portion for one of the 27 counties in Reynolds’ request. Reynolds herself admitted this week that many Iowans who suffered damage in the unprecedented storm won’t end up getting federal aid as Trump is unlikely to approve the individual assistance for every county.

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Both Ernst and Reynolds tried to convince the nation (and Iowans) that Trump had acted swiftly to help Iowans reeling from the disaster, when in reality he’s dragging his feet and may never come through for the state. Again, a failure of two top Iowa Republicans with unfettered access to Trump who can’t close the deal on what matters most.

Ernst also credited Trump on trade, one of the major reasons many blue-collar Iowans gave as their reason for voting for him in 2016.

“The president delivered on major trade deals with Japan and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” Ernst said.

Missing, of course, was any mention of the trade wars Trump initiated with China, a war that Iowa manufacturers and farmers have paid the price for.

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Earlier today, Ernst sent out a fundraising email on behalf of the Trump campaign where she called Trump “the hero we need,” saying his actions have “led to the Blue Collar Boom that I see in my home state of Iowa.”

Earlier this summer, John Deere announced additional layoffs at its plants in Waterloo and Davenport.

There were other lies sprinkled throughout Ernst’s speech, though more of the garden variety kind in Trump’s Republican Party.

“The Democratic Party of Joe Biden is pushing this so-called Green New Deal. If given power, they would essentially ban animal agriculture and eliminate gas-powered cars,” Ernst claimed. “It would destroy the agriculture industry, not just here in Iowa, but throughout the country.”

No one really believes (nor is it true) that Biden is going to ban animal agriculture in the U.S., but that’s the level of doom-and-gloom imagery that Republicans need to conjure up for farmers to make their own party’s failures look smaller in comparison.

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“Knowing we have an ally in the White House is important,” Ernst said as she closed out her remarks.

Many of the Iowans hurt by Trump’s policies already know that’s simply not true. As Ernst’s speech tonight reminded us, it’s not clear Iowa has an ally in their own U.S. Senate seat either.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 8/26/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

  • Pat Rynard

    Pat Rynard founded Iowa Starting Line in 2015. He is now Courier Newsroom's National Political Editor, where he oversees political reporters across the country. He still keeps a close eye on Iowa politics, his dog's name is Frank, and football season is his favorite time of year.



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