Is Donald Trump adding a woman to his ticket? Only time will tell.
Trump met with Iowa junior sen. Joni Ernst in New Jersey over the weekend, adding the 46-year-old to his growing list of potential vice presidential candidates. Of the get-together, Trump wrote on Twitter, “It was great spending time with @joniernst yesterday. She has done a fantastic job for the people of Iowa and U.S. Will see her again!”
Yet, there are still nearly two weeks to July’s GOP convention in Cleveland – plenty of time to brush up on your knowledge about Trump’s potential running mates, including Ernst.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Iowa native.
1. She grew up on a farm
Ernst burst onto the national radar in 2014 with a head-turning TV ad – called “Squeal” – that touted how she “grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm” with a family that knew hardship.
In a 2015 speech, Ernst said she plowed fields on her family’s land in southwestern Iowa before working construction with her father. Later, she served up breakfast at Hardees to save money for college.
“We were raised to live simply, not to waste,” she explained, noting, “Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have.” That upbringing, she argued in her 2014 Senate campaign, gave her a special expertise in cutting “pork,” or wasteful spending, in government.
“Washington’s full of big spenders,” she said in her memorable castration ad, “Let’s make ’em squeal.”
“Washington’s full of big spenders,” she said in her memorable castration ad. “Let’s make ’em squeal.”
2. She’s a war veteran
Ernst entered the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Iowa State University at only 20 years old, according to the Des Moines Register.
After graduation in 1992, Ernst was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually being promoted to captain in 1999.
Two years later, Ernst joined the Iowa National Guard, and, after 10 years of service, was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 2011. During this time, Ernst was deployed to Kuwait during the Iraq war from April 2003 – April 2004. Her unit ran convoys.
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3. She’s a mom
The senator is married to Gail Ernst, and the pair have a daughter, Libby, a high school student. Gail, who works as the manager of the Red Oak Municipal Airport, according to his LinkedIn, also has two adult daughters from his first marriage.
Gail came under fire during Ernst’s senate campaign for since-deleted inflammatory posts, according to the Register, including one in which he called Hillary Clinton a “hag.” Although he apologized for the comments, Ernst still spoke out against them, dubbing his words as “inappropriate” in a statement at the time.
“I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks,” she said.
4. She’s the first woman elected to serve in federal office in Iowa
When Ernst was elected in 2014 – winning by an 8.5 percent margin – she became the first woman elected to serve in federal office from the state of Iowa.
5. She’s much more than a politician
According to The Washington Post, Ernst is a “biscuit-baking, gun-shooting, twangy, twinkly farm girl,” who rides motorcycles and does things “the Iowa way.”
“I can tell you that the Iowa way – the Iowa way is to find out that there is a problem and acknowledge it and address it head-on,” she said during her campaign, according to the Post.