Sen. Joni Ernst ‘literally danced a jig’ while discussing Buttigieg, the possibility of impeachment hurting Democrats in Iowa

Joni Ernst’s official portrait, 2019.

The dancing of Pete Buttigieg’s supporters has been attracting attention on social media recently, but according to Politico, the South Bend mayor’s first-place finish in the most recent Iowa Poll also inspired someone who isn’t one of his supporters, Sen. Joni Ernst, to dance.

The Republican senator’s dance wasn’t just celebrating Buttigieg’s nine-point lead in the new poll, but the possibility that the impeachment of President Trump could be a disadvantage for presidential candidates in the Senate ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa Democratic Caucus.

In its “Political Playbook” section on Tuesday, Politico reported,

Republicans are rejoicing at the prospect of the [Senate] trial [of an impeached Donald Trump] disrupting Democrats’ presidential primary. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) literally danced a jig while singing: ‘Pete Buttigieg, is moving ahead!’ ‘It would be horrible,’ Ernst deadpanned on Monday. Elizabeth ‘Warren and Bernie Sanders will be here right before the Iowa caucuses. [Iowans] expect to reach out and shake their hands. And they will be here sitting at their desks. I feel so badly for them.’

In front of Iowans, Ernst, who is running for reelection, has refrained from suggesting Republicans could gain a political advantage from the impeachment proceedings, while repeatedly accusing Democrats of starting the impeachment inquiry for partisan political advantage.

After the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the launch of the impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24, Ernst issued a written statement dismissing the inquiry as a political stunt: “House Democrats have spent more than two years — since the morning of November 9, 2016 — engaging in antics to undermine President Trump. The fact that they are pushing for impeachment is no surprise, as their motives have always been crystal clear.”

But two days later, Ernst told Robert Costa of the Washington Post she couldn’t comment on the whistleblower complaint that sparked the inquiry, saying “I haven’t read the full report.”

The full report is only nine pages long.

Ernst used the same tactic of dismissing the inquiry while refusing to discuss Trump’s behavior during an Oct. 24 conference call with Iowa reporters.

The senator called the inquiry “more of a political show over there [in the House] than actually getting toward an objective.” But asked if Trump had behaved properly when trying to get the president of Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Ernst claimed she couldn’t comment.

“I can’t go down that path right now — because again — I haven’t seen all of the information. And bottom line, we don’t even know what the articles of impeachment are,” she said. “Nancy Pelosi has not indicated what they are trying to do other than go after the president.”

Ernst has behaved the same way when asked about impeachment during town hall meetings in Iowa.

Other results from that same Iowa Poll which inspired Ernst’s jig suggest her evasive defense of the president won’t hurt her standing with the state’s Republicans. Selzter & Co., who conducted the poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom, found 85 percent of Iowa Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing.

That represents a four-point increase in Iowa Republicans’ approval of Trump since March, the last time the Iowa Poll measured it.

“A majority of every demographic group [among Republicans] say they will definitely vote to re-elect the president, with the exception of moderates (47%),” J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co, told the Register.

Iowans in general, however, appear to be less impressed by Trump than registered Republicans are.

The most recent poll to measure Trump’s approval rating among all Iowans was conducted by Emerson Polling in October. That poll found only 43 percent of Iowans approved of Trump’s performance as president, while 47 percent disapproved.

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