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Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst suspends campaign to do National Guard service

Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate from Iowa, delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s weekly radio address on Saturday, according to the Washington Times. In the response, noting her own military service, she made a full throated attack on liberals, in Washington and elsewhere, and their tendency to tell people what to do. Then she announced that she was suspending her campaign for two weeks so that she might perform her annual service in the Iowa National Guard.

Joni Ernst
Iowa State Legislature (public domain)

Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw, himself a veteran of a number of political campaigns, noted that when a political candidate proposes to take time off from campaigning, it is usually the occasion for a campaign manager to want to slit his or her wrists. One does not risk losing momentum by taking time off. It also does not look good to be vacationing in the middle of a campaign, as former Speaker Newt Gingrich did in the midst of his ultimately unsuccessful 2012 run for president.

But Shaw also suggests that Ernst may be the exception to that rule. She is not, after all, taking two weeks off to relax. She will be doing military service as an officer in the Iowa National Guard. That cannot but be impressive to Iowa voters.

In the meantime Iowa Republicans are preparing to take full advantage of Ernst’s service. Noting that her opponent, Democrat Bruce Braley will not leave off attacking Ernst while she is on active service, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann urged that Iowa Republicans step up and campaign for her while she is away at Fort McCoy training. This sets up something of a conundrum for Braley, who has already hurt himself with a gaffe about trial lawyers being more important than farmers in rural Iowa.

Does he continue to attack a woman who, for the next two weeks, will be a solider on active service, thus risking a backlash? Or does not soften his own campaign, also risk losing momentum? Either approach is fraught with peril.

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