Congressional Republicans Thursday tapped freshman Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa to deliver their party’s response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced the choice at the House-Senate Republican retreat in Hershey, Pa.
Boehner called Ernst the ‘quintessential only-in-America story.’
A member of the National Guard and a former state senator, Ernst is the first woman to win statewide office in Iowa and the first female combat veteran to serve in the Senate. She’ll be the first first-year Republican freshman to deliver the Republican address.
‘I am truly honored to deliver the Republican address,’ she told reporters in Hershey. ‘It’s a long way from Red Oak, Iowa. ‘But now that I am here, I am excited to get to work in order to craft and implement real solutions as we chart a new path forward for our great nation.’
McConnell said Ernst ‘brings a unique perspective to the Senate.’
‘She is a mother, a soldier, and an independent leader who serves in Washington because Americans voted for change in the last election,’ McConnell said.
She got to Capitol Hill by defeating Democratic candidate Bruce Braley last November to gain a Senate seat that had been held by Democrats for 30 years. She had a folksy demeanor on the campaign trail that highlighted her Iowa farm roots.
In her first video ad, which became a YouTube hit, Ernst spoke about how she grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, and about her experience cutting pork.