Newly sworn-in Republican Sen. Joni Ernst delivered the party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address in a soft voice, but with a sharp contrast between the parties’ approach to government — and some not-so-veiled criticism of the president’s performance since taking office.
And she won praise from both ends of the political spectrum.
“I do think tonight a semi-star was born,” conservative columnist George Will told Fox News anchor Bret Baier after Ernst’s speech. “I think Senator Ernst from Iowa passed a test that others have failed. And, in doing so, she helped put a fresh face on the Republican Party.”
Fox contributor, liberal commentator Juan Williams agreed, noting that the dueling speeches marked the themes of the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I think Joni Ernst is a new star,” Williams said. “I think she did very well, and she did well by talking about Washington dysfunction and, again, coming back to the idea idea that there is, in the populist Republican mode, things to be done to help hard working people who want to advance if they are hard working and worthy.”
Ernst didn’t raise her voice, but she pulled no punches.
“The new Republican Congress understands how difficult these past six years have been,” Ernst said. “The sting of the economy and frustrations with Washington dysfunction weren’t thing we had to read about. We felt them every day …
“Many families feel like they’re working harder and harder with less and less to show for it.”
Ernst took particular aim at Obamacare, vowing the GOP would “repeal and replace a health care law that’s hurt so many working families.” She also said Congress would “work to correct executive overreach” – the president’s executive action on immigration — and pass a bill to finally get the long-awaited Keystone XL pipeline under construction.
In a combative speech, masked slightly by a soft Iowa inflection, Ernst said Republicans in Congress are working to restore the basic American tenet that to succeed, “you just need the freedom to dream big – and a whole lot of hard work.”
It was an explicit rejection of the Congress of Nancy “go-write-poetry” Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama.
“The new Republican Congress you elected is working to make sure Washington understands that, too,” she said.
Especially at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
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