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2016 Republican National Convention
Speech by Iowa Senator Joni Ernst

July 18, 2016

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has dedicated her life to Iowa and her country, having served in the military for over 23 years and now in the United States Senate. In November 2014, Ernst was elected as the first woman to serve in federal elected office from the State of Iowa and also became the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the United States Senate.

Distinguished delegates, Republicans, and millions of my fellow Americans watching around the country — especially those in Iowa — thank you Iowa — it's an honor to be with you in Cleveland, and to be on this stage with fellow veterans. Among them are Special Operations Master Sergeant Jason Beardsley. And my colleague, Congressman and Navy SEAL Ryan Zenki, who you'll hear from shortly.

I never would have imagined a farm girl like me, from Montgomery County, would have the opportunity to serve as the first woman elected to federal office from Iowa. However, my parents always said to my brother, sister and me, that if we worked hard, anything was possible. Growing up, we didn't have much. But what we didn't have in money, my parents — particularly my mother — made up for with tenacity. She really encouraged us. You never hear her say "No, you can't do this." Instead, if something was challenging, she'd say, "Joni, we'll figure out a way. If this is what you want, lets make it happen. We'll figure it out together." That's a trait I carry with me today. And it's something I teach my own daughter. In our household, and in the homes of many of those in the military, including those up here tonight, giving up, quitting, or accepting failure, are not options.

That resilience is not unique to our house. That can-do attitude has served as the foundation of our country for 240 years. It continues tonight here in Ohio, in Iowa, and all around our great nation.

In between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I went on an agricultural exchange to the Soviet Union. At night, the Ukrainians didn't talk about farming. Rather, they wanted to know what it was like to live in a country where they could experience freedom. They wanted to know — yes, beautiful freedom. They wanted to know about our country, a place where anything was possible. When I came home, I realized it wasn't enough to simply enjoy freedom and liberty; I had to do my part to protect and preserve it. So I joined the military, which is a tremendously important institution that defends the freedoms that Americans cherish.


Thank you. I've had the great privilege of serving my state and our country while working alongside some of our nation's finest soldiers. For 14 months, I served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where my unit was tasked with running convoys through Kuwait and southern Iraq. Last November, after more than 23 years of service, I retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.

As I travel across Iowa and around our great country, I hear from folks who are worried America is no longer leading but rather following from behind. Those concerns are echoed by our allies around the world and rightfully so. The question I hear time and time again is, where is America's leadership?

There's a void in the world, a deficit that cannot be filled by others. Our country and the world of which we are a part simply cannot afford four more years of this lack of leadership under Hillary Clinton.


Our allies see us shrinking from our place as a leader in the world, as we have failed time and again to address threats. They are looking for American leaders, leaders who are willing to stand up and say, enough is enough.

(Cheering and Applause)

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted. Her judgment and character are not suited to be sitting in the most powerful office in the world. She has already failed us too many times before. Hillary Clinton has failed to stop the expansion of terrorism.

Her policies in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria have created more safe havens for terrorism. Shockingly, she continues to support a policy that brings captured terrorists into our backyards.


All of us up here believe that's unacceptable. Unacceptable!

Hillary Clinton has failed to support our allies. Her decision to back the Iran Nuclear Deal puts in peril our longtime friends and allies in the region, especially Israel. They have continued to threaten to destroy Israel, both directly and indirectly, through its terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah. They remain the top sponsor of terrorism which endangers not just Israel, but Europe and the United States.


And look, just take a look, folks, at the pathetic track record she and Obama have in the war on ISIS. This Administration has called them "junior varsity adversaries", ignoring some of the best advice they were given. They represent a threat that is not limited to the Middle East and is spreading rapidly. In fact, according to the FBI, ISIS is present in all 50 states. Think about it for a moment. Terrorists from ISIS are in every one of our 50 states.

They will use -- yes, boo -- they will use whatever weapons they have: guns, trucks, knives, poisons, and bombs to kill innocent people. Under this current Administration's wayward policies, ISIS continues to spread, while the President fails to put forward a comprehensive strategy to defeat and destroy them.


Donald Trump will not hesitate to call radical Islamic terrorism by its name -

(Cheers and Applause)

-- and he will not hesitate to destroy those that wish to harm our great nation. USA!

God bless you. Yet, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton has failed to protect our national security in other ways. She jeopardized our safety by deciding our laws don't apply to her, setting up her own private e-mail server and then lying, lying to the American people about how it was used.

That's right. (Chuckles) Our men and women of the Armed Services, and let me say this clearly, our men and women of the Armed Services do not fail us. They cannot fail us. The Veterans here with me did not fail us.


They did not fail us. They, too, are individuals of the highest integrity. Our Presidents cannot fail us, either. How can we accept Hillary Clinton when she has failed them; failed us and cannot be trusted? She has proven time and time again that she is entirely unfit to serve as our nation's commander-in-chief.

(Cheering and Applause)

For too long, Americans have felt abandoned and their warnings unheard. Donald Trump has heard these voices loud and clear. We cannot afford four more years of the same failed policies.

(Cheering and Applause)

If that is not enough, the Veterans Administration has been failing those who have served, alongside those of us here on the stage, with scandal after scandal at the highest levels: inferior care, long wait times, extraordinary inefficiency, and a bureaucracy that has gone wild still continues. We need a commander-in-chief who will stand up to our enemies, support our allies, and have our veterans' backs.

We need -- thank you. We need a leader who will ensure America remains a strong, stabilizing force around the globe and who will keep us safe here at home.

Our country cannot take another four years like the eight we've just had. It's time to stand up and fight for the security of our children, our grandchildren and ourselves.


With Hillary Clinton it's always about her; it should be about you. Donald Trump is focused on you. He gave a voice to a movement of millions of Americans who are tired of politics as usual. I know as president, he will work tirelessly to keep our nation safe. Now is the time to make America safe again.


Thank you. Thank you.


Thank you, and may god bless all of you, the wonderful state of Iowa, the brave men and women in uniform and these great United States of America. God bless you. God bless you. Thank you.