A week out from Election Day, Sen. Joni Ernst spent her first day back from D.C. after the Supreme Court nomination vote traveling across the state line to Nebraska for a large Donald Trump rally in Omaha. Aside from a very quick shout-out from stage from the President, she appears to have gotten nothing out of it.
It’s a bit peculiar for a candidate for statewide office to use some of the few remaining hours before the election attending a campaign rally in a different state. Especially so for Ernst who missed out on many potential in-person campaigning days in Iowa due to the Amy Coney Barrett hearings.
Obviously, the Omaha airport is right next to Iowa, so none of this is that big a deal, but Ernst’s campaign team acted utterly outraged online today at anyone merely pointing out that she would be in Nebraska. How ridiculous to question it, they argued, given that the Omaha media market covers a chunk of Southwest Iowa. Getting on TV, even if you’re in Nebraska, still means Iowans see you.
That’s certainly true. But it only helps if the candidate actually, you know, appears on stage during the event. Even if that section doesn’t get featured, Ernst would still have gotten in front of the decent number of Iowans who attended the rally.
And Iowa candidates don’t regularly hold campaign events in Nebraska just to get TV hits. Those cameras also cross the river the other way to cover Iowa politics from time to time.
Oddly, David Young, the former congressman and current candidate for Iowa’s 3rd congressional district, was part of the pre-event speaker lineup. So was South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Ernst’s Senate colleague Deb Fisher of Nebraska, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, all of whom addressed the large crowd ahead of time.
But not Ernst. Even though another Iowa candidate was featured.
During some Trump campaign rallies, he’ll bring up a local candidate or elected official to stage to give them a boost. Not so this time on a very cold October evening.
“Joni, thank you very much, and I heard you’re doing very well. I just saw some very nice numbers,” Trump told Ernst from stage, adding that she often calls him about ethanol.
That was it. Trump did seem to suggest at one point that he’d be coming back to Iowa before the election, so perhaps she’ll still get her chance.
All Ernst ended up being tonight was another body in the crowd for Trump, which is certainly a metaphor for her entire reelection campaign.
She did, though, get one piece of media coverage out of it: Newsweek ran a quick story on how she was seen in the crowd not wearing a mask while being surrounded by others. (In fairness, Ernst did appear to have a mask at the event, it’s possible she just took it off to wave to the crowd.)
Meanwhile, Ernst’s opponent Theresa Greenfield, who Ernst constantly accuses of not campaigning anywhere, barnstormed across Iowa today, making five stops, in Des Moines, Marshalltown, Clear Lake, Boone and Ames.
Six more days.
by Pat Rynard
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