Sen. Joni Ernst chose to attend President Trump’s rally in Omaha on Tuesday night as she returned to actively campaigning after taking a break to help her fellow Republicans push through the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.
If Ernst expected a display of gratitude from Trump for Barrett vote or a big display of support for her reelection, she must have been disappointed.
Ernst was not a featured speaker at the rally, and Trump only mentioned her during a 36-second-long segment of his 46-minute speech. And Trump’s mention of Ernst came as part of his praise for Ernst’s fellow Republican, Sen. Deb Fisher of Nebraska.
Here as well are senators [sic] Deb Fischer, who’s fantastic. She is my favorite senator from the state of Nebraska. By far, by far. She’s fantastic. She is — I’ll tell you what, she calls me, it doesn’t stop. Between her and Joni Ernst from Iowa, who I think is here. Where’s Joni? Joni. Joni.
They call, “Sir we need help with ethanol. Sir, we need help with corn. We need.” [sic] It’s always — but you know what? That’s what a great senator, that’s what a great representative is supposed to do, right? Joni, thank you very much, and I heard you’re doing very well. I just saw some very nice numbers. And Deb, you don’t have to worry about numbers, right? You don’t have to worry about numbers. I’m with you all the time. Thank you both. And, uh, yeah. It looks very good in Iowa. Thank you very much. Good.
That was all Trump had to say about Ernst.
It’s not that Trump wasn’t trying to reach voters in Iowa with a rally just over the state line.
“Hello, Omaha,” Trump said when he began to speak at Omaha’s Eppley Airfied. “And I have to also say, because a lot of people are here from Iowa, hello, Iowa.”
“You know what?” Trump added. “We’re going to be in Iowa soon. We’ll do that one separately, huh? That’s a big difference.”
Trump has no appearances in Iowa scheduled before the election, but it is possible he was referring to a campaign rally Vice President Mike Pence will be holding at Des Moines International Airport on Thursday.
It’s also not that Trump wasn’t willing to use the rally to give a platform to other politicians. In addition to Nebraskans Gov. Pete Ricketts, Sen. Deb Fisher and Rep. Don Bacon, featured speakers at the rally included South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem as well as David Young from Iowa.
Young, a Republican, is running for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers much of the center of the state. He held that seat for two terms before being defeated by incumbent Cindy Axne in 2018.
Young was also a featured speaker at Trump’s rally in Des Moines on Oct. 14. Ernst did not appear at that rally, because she was in Washington D.C. advancing Barrett’s nomination. To do so, Ernst had to not only abandon her previous position on election year nominations, but also join with her fellow Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to violate committee rules so they could send Barrett’s nomination to the whole Senate for the final vote.
Even though that final vote only came on Monday night, Trump didn’t mention it, Barrett or the Supreme Court at his rally in Omaha.
“Great to be w/you Mr. President,” Ernst posted on Twitter after the rally, along with three photos, none of which show her anywhere near the president.
— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) October 28, 2020
The aftermath of the Trump rally made more news on Tuesday night than the rally itself. The buses the Trump campaign chartered to shuttle the president’s supporters back to the parking lots where they had left their cars didn’t arrive at the end of the rally.
“The buses, the huge crowd soon learned, couldn’t navigate the jammed airport roads,” the Washington Post reported. “For hours, attendees — including many elderly Trump supporters — stood in the cold, as police scrambled to help those most at-risk get to warmth.”
At least seven people succumbed to the freezing weather and had to be taken to the hospital.
Thousands of people left out in the cold and stranded in #Omaha, #Nebraska after a #Trump rally. I’m told the shuttles aren’t operating & there aren’t enough busses. Police didn’t seem to know what to do. Some walked. I saw at least one woman getting medical attention. pic.twitter.com/oIkmixaZt0
— Jeff Paul (@Jeff_Paul) October 28, 2020
Ernst returned to her hometown of Red Oak in western Iowa on Wednesday morning to kick off an RV tour of the state.