BOONE, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, officially kicked off her 2020 re-election campaign at her 5th annual Roast and Ride at the Central Iowa Expo on Saturday afternoon.

Ernst who spoke for over 30 minutes followed U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, Gov. Kim Reynolds, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Ernst started off her speech thanking those who spoke. She talked about her love of motorcycle riding. The Roast and Ride always starts with a motorcycle ride from Des Moines up to to the event location in Boone. Ernst led the group of 250 riders.

She said she enjoyed the freedom that she experiences while out riding, an experience she finds humbling and empowering.

Ernst’s also described growing up on a farm in southwest Iowa, but said they got by largely due to her mother’s grit and determination.

“I carried that determined spirit with me throughout my years, and it is something that I have tried to teach my beautiful daughter Libby. This resolve is not one that is unique to my family. It is a way of life for all of us who call Iowa home,” she said.

“We can’t take our way of life for granted because the very values that make up the heart and the soul of our state and this beautiful country are under attack,” Ernst warned.

“All across Iowa, liberal Democrats running for president… almost two dozen of them now are advocating for a socialist agenda,” she stated.

Ernst criticized Pete Buttigieg’s support for eliminating the Electoral College. She said it would take away Iowa’s voice. Ernst pointed out one candidate’s (Andrew Yang) support for universal basic income. “How much would you suppose that would cost?” she asked.

Ernst highlighted the broad support for government-run health care among the Democrat field. “The presidential hopefuls they love to talk about government-run healthcare. What they don’t like to talk about is its price tag – 32 trillion dollars,” she said. “32 trillion dollars and not to mention that the quality of care will go down while the wait times go up.”

“Washington liberals are not done. It is estimated that their ‘Green New Deal’ could cost as much as 93 trillion dollars,” she added.

Ernst also said that “the coastal elites” won’t stand up for newborn babies who survive an abortion attempt.

“Think about that for a minute folks. These are helpless, innocent, beautiful babies who are God’s children who were born alive. And folks let’s call it what it is – infanticide,” she said.

Ernst asked for the group’s support in stopping the Democrat agenda and officially kicked off her re-election campaign.

“Our freedoms are quite literally under attack because the radical left will stop at nothing until socialism has spread from coast to coast. And because folks we all know that there is a better way. And that is why I am so proud to announce to all of you today my campaign to return to the United States Senate,” she announced.

“You and I both know that this fight isn’t over and that there is more work to be done to push back on the coastal liberal insanity to stand up for Iowans, to stand up for our farms, to stand up for our very way of life in the face of socialism, to defend our country by strengthening our military and to support our fighting men and women around the world. And lastly, to make them squeal,” Ernst continued.

Ernst said that she has spent her time in office challenging the status quo. She talked about her success in getting legislation through the House and Senate with bipartisan support that would cut taxpayer-funded presidential perks after presidents left office while maintaing the security provisions. In 2016, President Barack Obama vetoed that legislation.

“In today’s world when past presidents are getting Netflix deals and podcast deals and major speaking fees I hardly think that it makes sense for taxpayers to have to finance their lives,” she explained.

Ernst said she plans to reintroduce it, “I’m not giving up that easily.”

She noted that President Trump donates his salary and understands that the office isn’t intended to make those who hold it, millionaires.

“While there are a lot of good hard working folks in Washington, I didn’t go there to be liked, I went there to make them squeal,” Ernst shared highlighting the pushback she received attempting to slash congressional perks.

She said her Squeal Act which eliminated the tax break members of Congress receive for their D.C. living expenses was signed into law by President Trump.

Ernst said she’s also demanded that the Department of Defense produce an audit which would be their first. She said she has pushed to withhold Congress’ pay until they produce a budget.

“And I have successfully held Congress’ feet to the fire and demanded that they skipped vacation and do their job,” she added. “Because, folks, Iowans don’t go on vacation until their work is done… We expect the same from our elected officials in Washington.”

Ernst also highlighted the Senate Republicans’ work confirming judges, rolling back regulations, and tax reform.

She pointed to a strong economy.

“In April, unemployment fell to its lowest point since 1969. Families are taxed less and keeping more of their hard-earned dollars. Folks, we are the envy of the world. Yet Democrats in Washington want to do away with these pro-growth policies and usher in mandates that contradict the very essence of the United States of America,” Ernst said.

She said an agricultural exchange trip to Ukraine before the fall of the Soviet Union gave her the opportunity to see what life was like without freedom. Ernst said that is what led her to become an Army officer to fight to defend freedom.

Ernst spent 23 years serving in uniform with the Iowa Army National Guard and led troops in Kuwait and Iraq. She was the first female combat vet win election to the United States Senate.

“When politicians talk about boots on the ground because I know what that means because it was my boots and the boots of my soldiers in a combat zone. I understand the threats we face and have the judgment and the know-how to keep America safe and strong,” she said.

Ernst also advocated increased border security, taking care of veterans, and combatting sexual assault, especially in the military.

She also highlighted her fight to keep markets open for farmers, to eliminate the Waters of the United States regulations, the renewable fuel standard, and year-round E-15.

Ernst also said she plans to complete her fifth 99-county tour, following the example that Grassley has set. “All Iowans deserve to have their voice heard she said.

Ernst concluded that during the difficult times she has faced and the politically-charged times we are in she finds herself repeating Psalm 121 as a reminder that her help comes from the Lord.

“It’s God who gives us our strength. During the toughest of times and the darkest of times. And it is then that I find the clarity and the resolve and the know-how to push past the partisan noise. And folks, while I am Iowa nice I’m not afraid to fight,” she said.

Watch Ernst’s announcement speech below:

Also watch former Ambassador Nikki Haley’s speech:

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s speech:

Gov. Kim Reynolds speech:

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