Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared with state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in Iowa Tuesday and also filmed an ad promoting her for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Romney calls Ernst a “proven conservative” who will “demand fiscal responsibility” in the 30-second spot. It’s the Chamber’s second ad for Ernst. (release)
The GOP field participated in one final debate ahead of the June 3 primary. Frontrunners Ernst and businessman Mark Jacobs (R) mostly held their fire, while radio host Sam Clovis (R) and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker (R) took the opportunity to sell themselves as more conservative alternatives. Des Moines Register columnist Kathie Obradovich criticized Jacobs for not using the event to take a shot at Ernst’s voting record.
Asked which 2016 presidential candidate they most identified with:
Jacobs said he liked parts of both Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and Sen. John McCain (R). Ernst answered Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R). Whitaker said Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), and Clovis declined to answer, but suggested a long list of candidates he didn’t like. (Des Moines Register)
Ernst on California shooting:
Ernst was asked to weigh in on the recent mass shooting by a California man, in reference to her NRA endorsement and provocative ad “shot.” Ernst said the “accident” had no bearing on Second Amendment rights. The phrasing caused liberal news organizations to jump on the quote.
“What happened in that shooting and that stabbing is an absolute tragedy; however, I remain firm in my commitment to the Second Amendment”¦And again, just because of a horrible, horrible tragedy, I don’t believe we should be infringing upon people’s Second Amendment rights.”
Asked if she wishes she’d changed her ad’s content or its timing, Ernst said: “No, this unfortunate accident happened after the ad.” (Des Moines Register)
Ernst on gay marriage:
The candidate also received criticism for her confusing stance on a gay marriage ban, suggesting it was a state issue, but that she would vote for a federal ban.
“I do believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and I also believe that this is a state’s right. And I have a record of this here in the state of Iowa. It is up to the people to make that decision, so allow the states to make that decision”¦If it [a same-sex marriage ban] would come up at the federal level, I would support it.” (Huffington Post)
CORRECTION: The original version of this post misidentified businessman Mark Jacobs.