Exclusive — Joni Ernst: Roast and Ride Fundraiser Is Essentially the GOP Primary ‘Kickoff’

Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, right, leads a group of motorcyclists during the 2nd annual Roast and Ride in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. Ernst, who in 2014 won the Senate seat vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin when he retired, has turned her Roast …
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) Roast and Ride fundraiser is essentially serving as the Republican primary “kickoff,” as several presidential candidates are attending the event, the senator said during an appearance on Breitbart News Saturday, detailing the importance of Iowa voters ahead of the elections.

The fundraiser, which benefits the veterans’ charity Freedom Foundation of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, begins at Big Barn Harley-Davidson, where attendees ride motorcycles down to the Iowa State Fairgrounds, where eight presidential candidates will ultimately speak.

Ernst said this event essentially marks the “biggest event yet in 2023” for GOP candidates.

“They recognize that the road to 2024 runs right through Iowa, and it starts at the Roast and Ride. So this will be the biggest event yet in 2023 with these eight Republican presidential hopefuls,” she said, explaining that they have seen that Democrats “have left middle America behind; they have given us the middle finger.”

“So Republicans, we’re still alive and well across the Midwest,” she stated. “We’re gonna highlight these presidential hopefuls. We’re gonna give them a voice, we’re gonna give them a stage, and we will be able to showcase their inspiration, not just for Iowans, but for the rest of the nation as well.”

Ernst discussed how Iowans ask in-depth and “quality” questions and want to get to know the candidates and gauge if they are right not just for costal elites but middle America as well.

‘They want to shake their hand and they want to look them in the eye and know that what they’re proposing is right for not just the elites on the coast, but also what’s right for middle America,” she said.

“They want to know that these are the candidates that are going to represent them in Washington, DC. So this is the kickoff right here at the Roast and Ride,” she said.

“We will see so many of these candidates coming back into the state. You’re right. President Trump has already been here. He’s been in Des Moines just in the last couple of days. We have these eight other presidential hopefuls that will take the stage today. We’ll see a few others may be getting into the race in near term. And so we invite them all into our great state,” Ernst continued, emphasizing that Democrats jus want to focus on the “big urban areas on the coasts, not in middle America.”


When asked about some of the issues at the forefront this election cycle, Ernst listed inflation, trade, leftist green ideology, and the southern border.

“We’ve got a smorgasbord of issues because of this Biden administration. Number one, the economy and inflation and the overspending by the federal government,” she said, also explaining that Iowans are concerned about the southern border as well, citing the “spike in fentanyl deaths in the last two years from our young people.”

“That is extremely concerning, even in these rural areas,” the senator said.

Biden, she continued, is “really is representing a party of liberal elites.”

“And that’s very concerning to everyday men and women on the street here in Iowa. They feel like they’ve been left behind. So as our candidates get out there, they will touch upon all of these different issues,” she said, explaining how President Biden got away with hiding in his basement the last campaign cycle, avoiding voters.

“Here in Iowa with the caucus process, candidates have to be out greeting those individuals, visiting with them, answering questions. President Biden won’t even do press conferences that aren’t scripted. So you have to wonder about the mental readiness to be able to respond as things are thrown his direction. He’s not going to be able to hide away,” she said.

US President Joe Biden is helped up after falling during the graduation ceremony at the United States Air Force Academy. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

However, because Democrats no longer have the first in the nation caucus in Iowa anymore, Ernst said they will not see Biden out on the campaign trail in middle America.

“He won’t have to answer those hard questions as our Republican candidates do,” she said before offering advice to the 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls.

“Speak directly to these incredible patriots… Don’t try and pull the wool over their eyes, because they’re gonna see right through it. These are people that love our country,” she said, encouraging candidates to share their “hopes, your dreams, your inspiration with these great Iowa caucus goers.”

“Explain your positions inside and out. You may have different positions on different topics. That’s ok. Just be able to explain your position to our great Iowans, so that they hear the full spectrum of your ideas [and] why you think it should be this way or that way. But get out, shake their hands. Be willing to listen to Iowans, and Iowans will be willing to listen to you,” she added.


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