NEWTON, IOWA – Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst said Monday morning she’s “offended” that retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin compared her to pop star Taylor Swift, saying, “If my name were John Ernst and I were a guy, he wouldn’t be saying those things about me.”
Harkin, whose seat Ernst is trying to win Tuesday, last week called Ernst “really attractive.” “I don’t care if she’s as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like Michele Bachmann, she’s wrong for the state of Iowa,” Harkin said at the Story County Democrats’ annual fall barbecue last week, as first reported by BuzzFeed.
While stumping here with other Republicans Monday morning at Newton Manufacturing, Ernst said the remarks are obviously about her gender.
“I’m offended. I am offended. To be compared to Taylor Swift, I guess that’s OK, because she’s a very successful woman. But it’s offensive,” she told reporters after the event. “To think that I can be a conservative woman and them not consider me woman enough, I don’t know. I’m confused by their message.”
Two new polls of the race essentially show a tie, giving Democrats hope after a dispiriting Des Moines Register poll released Saturday that found Ernst up seven percentage points over Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.
Both candidates are stumping across the state in a last-minute push to get their voters to polls.
Ernst embarked early Monday morning on a non-stop 24-hour tour that includes a 3:45AM stop in Soux City and concludes in her hometown early the next morning. Braley is making his way through the Eastern portion of the state with Harkin, who represented the state in the Senate for 40 years.
Democrats are counting on a superior voter mobilization effort to carry them over the top Tuesday. This weekend alone, they knocked on more than 350,000 doors, made more than 450,000 calls to voters, and mobilized nearly 5,000 volunteers, according to the state party.
Republicans invested in their ground effort to a greater degree than in previous years this cycle, initially catching up in early vote returns, but have since fallen behind. Democrats insist their infrastructure is still far better. “We know that the more Iowans who vote, the better Bruce will do—and our superior field operation is reaching out to hundreds of thousands of our supporters in the final day,” said Braley spokesperson Sam Lau.
Ernst too is confident. “We’ve always known that this race was going to be tight, I do feel the momentum is behind us though,” she said. “I feel really good about this election. I feel really good.”