Freshman Sen. Joni Ernst is often described in the media as a GOP rising star and is continuing to embrace that title, this week accepting a prime-time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention later this month in Cleveland.
Ernst, a former lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard who served in Iraq, will reportedly make national security the focus of her speech. Her background could help Trump make up for his lack of foreign policy knowledge, although what Ernst knows is also questionable — in 2014, when she was running for the Senate, she repeated one of the Bush administration’s biggest lies for the Iraq war, telling the Des Moines Register that she believed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. (Trump himself has also lied about the war, claiming without any evidence that he opposed the invasion before it happened.)
Meanwhile, Ernst has attempted to dispel rumors that she is considering a position as Trump’s running mate, after reports earlier this week that she was on the presumed GOP nominee’s shortlist and after meeting with Trump in New Jersey. Ernst, whose other high-profile moments include giving the GOP response to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, has said she plans to remain in the Senate.