Hogs on a farm in Elma, Iowa.
Scott Olson/Getty

Iowa Republican’s new campaign ad: ‘Let’s make ‘em squeal’


Iowa Republican candidate Joni Ernst thinks growing up on a pig farm prepared her to cut pork spending in Washington, according to a new ad released this week. 

“I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm,” Ernst, currently a state senator, says in the opening line of the “Squeal” ad. “So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.”

The ad intercuts shots of pigs laying around a barn with Ernst’s policy proposals, including cutting wasteful spending, repealing Obamacare, and balancing the budget.

“I’m Joni Ernst and I approve this message because Washington’s full of big spenders,” she says at the end of the 30-second spot. “Let’s make them squeal.”  

Ernst is one of five Republicans vying to become the party’s candidate in the race to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.

Neither she nor any of her fellow Republicans have particularly strong name recognition at this juncture, a little more than two months ahead of the June 3 primary. 

A recent Des Moines Register poll found less than a third of Iowa Republicans polled recognized the names of any of the GOP candidates. The best known candidate, retired businessman Mark Jacobs, got a favorable rating from 18% of Republicans polled, while 13% had a favorable view of Ernst.

Ernst has since picked up the endorsement of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“As a mother, soldier and proven conservative, Joni has the kind of experience, skillset and discipline it will take to not only win this important seat, but to also take Iowa values to help turn around the mess in Washington,” Romney said in a fundraising letter sent on Ernst’s behalf.

The winner of the Republican primary will likely face off against Rep. Bruce Braley, the sole Democrat running for Harkin’s seat. Political poll cruncher Nate Silver predicted this week that Democrats have a 75% chance of retaining Harkin’s seat, while predicting that Republicans have a slightly better chance of taking control of the Senate overall than Democrats do of retaining control.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, 3/25/14, 7:56 PM ET

Cutting the pork-barrel spending

Sideshow: Conservative candidate Joni Ernst is citing her experience on an Iowa farm as her main qualification for senator.

Iowa Republican's new campaign ad: 'Let's make 'em squeal'