ADEL, Iowa -Joni Ernst just started one morning town hall here recently when a flurry of complaints Donald Trump began.
One after another, the constituents took to the microphone grill first term Republican senator on the president – his attacks on John McCain, his declaration of emergency on the border, and why, in the opinion of many voters, Ernst did not get up to him more often.
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"Other senators speak criticizing Trump and defend McCain, but I still have not heard a single word from you," one man pleaded with her. "No Trump Is the line can cross that will take you to break up with him?"
Ernst kept her cool as she responded to the 30 people who were traveling in the high school auditorium on the outskirts of Des Moines, to hear her. But she was determined to respond, "Oh, I have to break with the president of Trump very little" After defending McCain, she said: "Yes, right there – there you have it."
Ernst better get used to it. At the same time it is gearing up for election in the Democratic presidential candidates will spend the night in Iowa forging Trump at every step. Increased focus on the president to check the political sleight of Ernst, who usually earned high marks in the state, but having to answer for Trump – whose poll number is behind it – and some of his unpopular policies.
Ernst was elected to the Senate in 2014 with much different circumstances. 48-year-old combat veteran ran as an independent-minded Republican who will whip the federal budget and the fight against the Democratic overreach. But next year it will be on the ballot with Trump, whose tariffs hurt the state agricultural sector and whose tax cuts – with the support of Ernst – inflated, Sun held the deficit.
Ernst, known in the Senate for her carefree demeanor and willingness to work with Democrats, contribute to hang on. Its dew with & # 39 is a top priority for Senate Republicans, not just because they cling to a narrow majority heading into 2020, but due to the Ernst is one of the few women in their ranks – and one of the most promising prospects for both sexes. In November, she was the first Republican woman elected to the Senate GOP leadership in eight years, and she was one of two Republican women on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, which until this year was not a single woman GOP.
But her re-election in a conservative sense of the state, the Trump is easily carried in 2016, not from the & # 39 is a foregone conclusion. Democrats turned two GOP-Held places in Iowa last year, and Trump's ratings plunged to his trade war carried off on. Barack Obama won the state twice and Ernst predecessor, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, represented the state in three decades.
"There are only two ways to run – one of the & # 39 has no alternative, while others are afraid, so she should be ready, and I think she will," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Iowa You will, he added, "is not a ruby fortune."
Ernst projects a warm and down to earth behavior: Faced with the voters, she quietly and allow them to finish their thoughts. She responds, explaining her point of view, and appeals to the voters in their name, as if she was talking with a friend.
During his first term, she has focused on issues affecting veterans and women mating with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) on a bill to require sex education to prevent the attack of new members of the armed forces, and on the & # 39; yadnavshysya with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D -Calif.) on the reauthorization of the violence against women. It is also known in the Senate for its monthly "screaming Award», which tends to cause of wasteful federal spending.
"I like Johnny, I like to work with her," said Senator Mazie Hiron (D-Hawaii)), one of the most progressive members of the Democratic Party, which sits in the Armed Services Committee with Ernst. "We have disagreements, [but] I think she's thoughtful and she focuses on what she cares about. "
results Ernst polls in Iowa hesitated, but now with the & # 39 is strong. In February, it was 57 percent approval rating, in accordance with the Des Moines Register / Mediacom Iowa Poll, an increase over its 47 percent approval rating in September. Her approval rating hovered around 50 percent over the past two years, according to this survey.
Trump, on the other hand, saw its net approval rating plummet by 20 points in Iowa since he took office, according to the morning Consult. February survey by The Des Moines Register found that 50 percent of voters disapproved of Iowa Trump, while 46 percent approved.
Ernst has been a reliable vote for most of the day Trump. It is supported by its judicial and executive branch candidates, tax reduction plan and GOP repeal of the Affordable Care. Most recently, she sided with the president on his emergency statement on the construction of the border wall, as well as a dozen other Republicans against the move.
Ernst broke with Trump on some issues, though. She opposes the ban on the administration of a transsexual who had served in the army, and criticized its trade policies and the impact they have on the farmer. It also supported the amendment this year against the proposed "tough" Trump withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack Democratic, who recently said that it will not work against Ernst, said Democrats should make the race a referendum on the question of Ernst delivered on his promise to shake up Washington.
"It is, in fact, was an assistant of many politicians Trump, is not particularly good for Iowa," Vilsack said in an interview with & # 39; S.
Democrat Robert Sand, who was recently elected state auditor and considered as a potential challenger for Ernst, said her loyalty to the party line with a & # 39 is its great vulnerability.
"It sold itself as the Harley-wearing, gun-shooting, pig castration person who will actually stand up and be tough, and it was not hard," said Sand, citing Ernst 2014 virus on & # 39; shew bragging about its history castration of pigs as a metaphor for how she cut government waste. "It just takes orders from Mitch McConnell."
Trump trade war with China is a huge problem in Iowa. Tariffs closed state soybean industry, a large part of Iowa's economy. Iowa State University last year, according to forecasts, prices could cost the state farmers of up to $ 2.2 billion in revenue.
Ernst points to trade in the area where she did not agree with Trump. She was among a group of senators who co-sponsored the legislation in February that would require the Department of Defense to justify the rates issued on the basis of national security.
"What he does with the rates it was very hard on our agricultural industry, and so I kept pushing the administration – let's focus on the fact that the trade deal is done, let's move, let's move on, we want a good deal, but let's move, "she said, adding that her good relationship with Trump to & # 39 is good for the state. "I mean that it will take my calls."
Ernst attributed Trump sagging popularity in the state in part in its trade war. While it is certain that the president carry Iowa again, she warned that there will be a lot harder if, when Trump sun ignited bargains to break the current impasse with China.
J.B. Poersch, President of the Democratic majority in the Senate, the PAC, said the growth of the trade deficit can also drag down Ernst. The United States had a trade deficit with China recording in 2018, these numbers improved slightly in January, with China agreeing to increase the purchase of soybeans in trade negotiations.
"The debts of the budget, the deficit of the trade balance – all of them surprisingly high and worsened in the Republican administration is clearly in a time when Republicans are all run," said Poersch. "That's what it considers its main strategic issue."
Dew Ernst able battlefield at a time when it desperately needs her party.
Republicans strongly fought against recruiting women candidates and attractive to women voters. The problem came to a head during the confirmation hearing, the Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh, when a group of white men Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Christine Blasey Ford, accused Coffee sexual abuse when they were in high school. He denied the allegation.
"It's pretty obvious to some of the biggest fights that we've had people who are like me and do not have enough people like it," said Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Member Iowa Sen. Grassley said Ernst "solve our problems by being a good Republican Senator and encourage other women to work as a model to follow."
Ernst stressed in 2014 that it does not "work on my floor." But she still managed to become the first woman elected to the federal office of the State of Iowa. Since then, Iowa was elected the first female House speaker, Linda Apmayer and the first female Governor Kim Reynolds.
"I think it really undermines the democratic rhetoric, it is a war of women," said Jeff Kaufman, chairman of the Party of the Iowa Republican Party. "If there is a war here, in this state, we have a woman as our generals."
Ernst also became more personal about their own experiences of sexual violence, against public divorce.
"It was very difficult, I would say, sharing your own story," she said. "It was important for me to recognize, and we hope to be able to inspire other men and women, because it is not only women, there are men who go through it as well."
Ernst says that her party can attract more women suburban voters, paying attention to the problems that affect them, as the cost of medicines.
Upmeyer, the first female speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Iowa, Ernst credits with being a role model for other women politicians in Iowa.
"Or & # 39 is that violence, or divorce, or even a struggle climbing the stairs and have the opportunity to be a US Senator," she said, women "can relate to that."