Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa speaks during the Freedom Summit, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC

Ernst to Hillary: ‘It’s not enough to be a woman’


Sen. Joni Ernst has a message for Hillary Clinton that might ring a bell: “It’s not enough to be a woman.”

The Iowa Republican, who rallied several GOP presidential candidates and hopefuls at the state’s inaugural “Roast and Ride” fundraiser over the weekend, tacked on her own criticism of the former secretary of state – a common talking point among her fellow Republicans. 

“I would say Hillary, it’s not enough to be a woman. You have to care about women’s issues,” Ernst said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Related: Scott Walker attends Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride in Iowa

If it sounds familiar, it’s because Clinton had the same message for the GOP state senator during the 2014 midterm elections. Clinton accused Ernst of dodging “tough questions,” adding that “it’s not enough to be a woman. You have to be committed to expand rights and opportunities for all women.” On Sunday, Ernst got her chance to shoot back. 

“You have to be a leader with a vision, and you have to show Iowans that you want it … and not just a woman,” the Iraq war veteran said.

Clinton, the leading Democratic nominee, has already begun to make women’s issues a major part of her 2016 campaign, highlighting girls’ empowerment, healthcare, family planning for women, and more in recent speeches. 

Before Ernst’s senate victory, Iowa had never elected a woman to the U.S. House or Senate. In her first national interview, Ernst told ABC host Jonathan Karl she was no ‘Kingmaker,” however she would consider calling the shots as vice president if recruited to run by a 2016 GOP contender.

“I think that’s nice. Did my mother pay you to say that?” said Ernst when asked if she would consider being a 2016 GOP running mate.

On Saturday, Ernst hosted “Roast and Ride” ahead of major debates like the Iowa Straw Poll in August and the Iowa caucuses. The first ever event in Boone, Iowa drew seven GOP presidential hopefuls and potential candidates, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and more.  

Related: Iowa Republicans say Joni Ernest ‘has what it takes’ to be president

When asked by Karl if presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush were making a mistake if follow through on their position to not attend the upcoming Straw Poll, Ernst simply said she would like to see them there.

“Let’s put it that way … It’s a great opportunity to reach a lot of voters in a very fun atmosphere,” Ernst said. 

“We have to have somebody that will express conservative views, of course, and I’m looking for somebody that is very Reaganesque, someone that can reach all aspects of our voting population here in America, all areas, not just a select few people,” expressed Ernst on characteristics the Straw Poll winner should embody.