Congressional correspondent Luke Russert said on MSNBC Tuesday that freshman Sen. Joni Ernst was a pig farmer this time last year and marveled that she is now she is giving the rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address. “That is an extraordinary rise in politics right there,” Russert told Joy Ann Reid.
Russert said that Ernst is emblematic of what the GOP wants to be. “That is what you’ll see her do tonight, sell her personality as a war veteran and somebody who was a pig farmer around this time last year and now giving the rebuttal to the president.”
In a campaign ad last year Ernst said that she “grew up” castrating pigs on an Iowa farm. In addition to being the freshman senator from Iowa, Ernst serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard, commanding the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Camp Dodge, and has 21 years of military service under her belt. This time last year she was a member of the Iowa state Senate, where she had served since 2011. Prior to that she was a two-term county auditor.
Russert said that the selection of Ernst has a lot more to do with personality than with policy. “One thing Mitch McConnell said around the Christmas holiday, he doesn’t want Republicans to be made out to be the bad guys in the room. He is working hard to change the face of how they are being interpreted by Americans. The selection of Ernst is his attempt to do that. I expect it to be about personality and Republican themes and not specifics to the president’s speech.”