Joni Ernst has taken the political stage by storm in her short-lived career, and this was increased significantly with her delivery of the official Republican rebuttal to Obama's State of the Union address last night. In this 114th session of Congress, one sure to be mired with hyper-partisanship and legislative gridlock, with a lame duck in the Oval Office, Republicans will be vying to gain as much public exposure by 2016; the majority seeking either a place on the Presidential ballot as a running-mate, or perhaps joining a new cabinet.
Ernst, 44, is the Junior Senator for Iowa, elected in the recent midterms, having served as a State Senator prior to this. Despite lacking political experience in the Capitol and in frontline politics generally, she checks multiple boxes for a potential running-mate in 2016.
First and foremost, as a woman, she could provide the balance on a GOP ticket, with the current crop of candidates for nomination dominated by men. Secondly, she has all the conservative credentials that appeal to the party base; she has an 'A' rating from the NRA, is staunchly pro-life, supports repeal of 'Obamacare', supports repeal of the federal minimum wage as well as being fervently in favour of states' rights and limiting the size of the federal government.
In her short time in politics, she has managed to garner significant national attention, receiving endorsements for her Senate campaign from former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as well as the US Chamber of Commerce. Her campaign advert released in the build-up to the Senate election also achieved nationwide exposure, where Ernst compared her experiences castrating pigs in her youth to being able to reduce the level of pork in Congress (pork is the process in which Congressmen appropriate government funds for a project specifically in their own district).
Perhaps most pertinent is that she is military veteran, having served in the Army Reserve and National Guard, and currently serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. Given the infatuation of America with the Armed Services, having the label as the first female Senator to have served in the Army, is not only beneficial to gaining notoriety in Republican circles, but across partisan lines as well.
Indeed, her address last night has brought her to the forefront of national politics, and is reminiscent of President Obama's rise; he too was a State Senator (albeit for considerably longer) before becoming a Senator, and he rose to prominence after delivering the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Whilst it is still very much uncertain who will win the Republican Party's nomination for the Presidential campaign in 2016, Joni Ernst has emerged as strong potential running mate for any of potential hopefuls, with her rebuttal to the State of the Union yesterday. If she retains her status as the darling of the conservative right, perhaps she may be making the State of the Union address herself one day.