DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst will take a break from campaigning for two weeks to take part in active-duty training for the Iowa National Guard. But before lacing up her boots, Ernst was to record the Republicans' national radio address, the Republican National Committee said Friday.
Ernst, a lieutenant colonel and state senator from southwest Iowa, recorded the speech Thursday evening just hours before she was scheduled to report for duty at 6 a.m. From central Iowa Ernst was leading a convoy to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, where for the next two weeks she will drill with her transportation battalion.
During that time, Ernst will not campaign, even though the race against four-term Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is heating up. Ernst has recently fielded questions about harsh criticism she leveled against President Barack Obama during the primary campaign, including characterizing the Democratic president as a dictator and saying he should be impeached.
Earlier in the year, video surfaced of Braley dismissing senior Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican, as possible chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, because he was "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school." Grassley, in his sixth term, would be positioned to be chairman if the GOP wins control of the Senate. Braley was a lawyer in private practice before his 2006 election to Congress.
The race has become competitive since the June 3 Republican primary, with both parties — as well as free-spending outside groups — pledging to win the seat held for 30 years by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
Republicans need to gain six seats to seize the majority in the Senate. Iowa is among states such as Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina and West Virginia that could determine which party controls the Senate in November.
Ernst convincingly won a five-way primary last month, backed by a coalition that included establishment Republicans such as Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and tea party-backed figures such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
The address airs Saturday morning.