Former 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney lumped President Obama and Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley together Sunday in taking shots at Democratic policies while touting Republican senatorial candidate Joni Ernst as the tonic needed to fix the nation’s ills in Washington.
“She’s going to be an extraordinary breath of fresh air in Washington,” Romney told 200 Republicans who turned out for a rally at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation headquarters. “I can’t wait until she goes there and makes them squeal.”
Ernst, a state senator from Red Oak, is locked in a neck-and-neck battle with Braley, a four-term Waterloo Democrat, in the Nov. 4 contest to see who will succeed Democrat Tom Harkin as Iowa’s next U.S. senator.
Romney said Obama, who defeated him in the 2012 presidential election, has noted that he is not on the ballot in this year’s midterm election but his policies are.
“Now I know that Iowa voted for president Obama, but Iowa is not going to vote for Bill Braley and vote for him a third time, that’s for sure,” said Romney, a reference that put him the company of former President Bill Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama who also came to Iowa and got Braley’s name wrong.
Romney said health care costs have gone up under Obamacare, poverty has gotten worse for Americans, the federal budget deficit has nearly doubled, bad things have happened internationally as Obama has pulled back and shrunk the military and traveled the world apologizing for America.
“This is not a philosophy of the presidency that is working,” noted Romney.
“It’s time for the president to apologize to America,” he said.
The former Massachusetts governor said Ernst brings Midwest values and leadership experience as an officer in the Iowa National Guard who saw combat duty in Iraq.
“Iowa has a choice. Iowa can make a decision to change the course in Washington,” he said.
Ernst joined Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds in touting successes during their time at the Statehouse before she took aim at Braley for missing veterans’ affairs hearings at a critical time when he could have had an impact in addressing their health care needs.
“He left 120,000 American veterans hanging out to dry without the health care not only that they deserved but they had earned with their honorable service to this great nation,” she said.
Ernst also accused Braley of twice voting to “defund our troops as they were serving in combat” during Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, leaving them vulnerable.
“He will try to deny it, but what he was doing was putting politics ahead of our men and women in uniform and that is absolutely unacceptable,” Ernst told the crowd.
Braley’s campaign issued a statement later Sunday saying the congressmen made it clear during the vote Ernst referenced that he supported funding for the American troops and raising their pay, but he could not support bills that left them fighting ground wars indefinitely.
“This is a shameful and false attack,” said Braley campaign spokesman Sam Lau. “Joni Ernst knows she is misleading Iowans about Bruce’s record in order to hide her out-of-step agenda that puts millionaires and special interests ahead of Iowa’s families.
“As the son of a Marine veteran, Bruce has always supported our men and women in uniform, and like most Iowans, does not believe we should commit them to a prolonged ground war with no end date,” he added.
At one point during his speech, Romney noted that “I’m not running for anything.”