Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, has reportedly canceled meetings with major editorial boards in the state.
The cancelation was made public by The Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu, a columnist for the paper in a Facebook post:
Is Joni Ernst afraid of newspaper editorial boards? After much negotiating, she was scheduled to meet his morning with writers and editors at The Des Moines Register, but last night her people called to unilaterally cancel. She has also begged off meetings with The Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald.
Is Ernst that sensitive to the kinds of criticisms that invariably will come in such a high profile U.S. Senate race? Is she afraid of the scrutiny? Sure, it’s stressful, but all the other candidates for Congress are doing it to get their messages out, including Steven King, the target of frequent editorial criticism. Would Ernst similarly thumb her nose at the press while serving in the Senate?
The Des Moines Register’s Randy Evans tweet something similar to Basu’s post.
.@joniernst cancelled plans to meet today w/ @DMRegister editorial board. Did the same w/ Cedar Rapids Gazette. Avoiding tough questions?
— Randy Evans (@DMRevans) October 23, 2014
In an endorsement of Braley by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the paper noted that “Ernst’s campaign failed to make time in her schedule.” Bloomberg Politics’ Dave Weigel also noted that, according to CBS affiliate KMEG14 reporter Jen Austin, “after a half dozen attempts, including emails and phone calls to Joni Erns’s camp we were unable to schedule a sit-down with the Republican candidate.”
Earlier in the week, the Des Moines Register, arguably Iowa’s most prominent newspaper, called Ernst out on her support of a Personhood measure in a blistering editorial on Tuesday.
Specifically, the editorial criticizes Ernst for saying during the last U.S. Senate debate between her and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), that a Personhood amendment to the state Constitution that she supported “is simply a statement that I support life.”
“Ernst’s assertion that a personhood amendment is “simply a statement that I support is naive,” the editorial said. “Amending the Iowa Constitution is a big deal. And it’s a rare event, having been done fewer than 50 times since the constitution was adopted. A proposed amendment needs to be approved by both the Iowa House and Senate in two consecutive general assemblies and then approved by voters in the next general election.”
In a statement to Politico, Ernst spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel referred to the Register’s recent critical editorials of Ernst.
“Joni is barnstorming the state, visiting all 99 counties and talking face to face with voters about the issues they care about most,” Hamel said in the statement. “Recent editorials in the Des Moines Register make their position in this race perfectly clear, and it’s one that many voters across our state seem to disagree with. With less than 12 days to go, time is precious and Joni wants to spend every minute talking to undecided voters, hearing their concerns, and demonstrating why we need a change in Washington.”
Rick Green, the president and publisher of the Register, said his publication was disappointed, not angry, with Ernst’s cancelation, according to Politico:
We were disappointed by the Ernst camp’s decision to not spend an hour with the editorial board and share her vision for our state and the rest of the country. This has been an incredibly nasty, competitive race where both sides have spent millions and aired tens of thousands of TV spots. Undecided voters I talk to want Sen. Ernst to break through the rhetoric and cacophony of campaign ads about hogs, Obamacare and balanced budgets. It’s a time for sharing specifics. It’s a chance to have a serious conversation about vision, priorities, the economy, national security, foreign relations and Social Security. I’m not angry she snubbed the Des Moines Register editorial board, which is in final deliberations about our Senate endorsement. It truly isn’t about us. We wanted to discuss the future of the state and allow Joni Ernst to share insights and specific responses to the concerns and questions of Iowans and voters. It’s unfortunate that cannot happen.
The TPM Polltracker average finds Ernst with a 1.1 lead over Braley.
This post was updated.