Senator Ernst: I Have Not Chosen a Side, but Haley is a ‘Great Candidate’

Sen. Joni Ernst, holding her cards close, on Sunday refused to endorse a GOP presidential candidate one day before the Iowa caucuses, but she called Nikki Haley a “great candidate” and said she won’t rule out endorsing former President Donald Trump if he wins the party’s nomination.

“If you look at the issues that are top of mind for Iowa Republicans, they are the economy — they’ve suffered under President [Joe] Biden  —  it is the southern border and the flow of illegal migrants into the United States,” the Iowa Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“But overall, if you look at national security, protecting our borders, and pushing back against our adversaries worldwide, Nikki Haley does have the experience there, and she’s really spoken to that to the Iowa voters. So that may be one of the tipping points that resonate with so many different voters,” said Ernst.

Trump, the clear frontrunner heading into the caucuses, pulled out a lead of almost 30 points in the final NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll before Monday’s caucuses. Haley came out slightly ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, netting 20% compared to 16% for him.

Polls overall show Haley doing best against Biden in a general election campaign, with Trump being essentially tied with him. 

But Ernst said she has gone “round and round in my mind” over who will get her backing, and said that even though Trump is the frontrunner, his win Monday night is not a “foregone conclusion.”

“We’ll see who comes out the winner here in the Iowa caucuses,” she said. “We’ll know that tomorrow night, and then we’ll know how to move forward.”

Ernst also indicated that she’s made up her mind about who she’s caucusing for Monday night, but refused to reveal that publicly. 

“I guess I am assuming that President Trump wins, but it could be any one of these fantastic candidates,” she said. “I’ve made up my decision on who I will caucus for — it is a private ballot. And I would expect that we’ll have a very good turnout…but again, I’m not going to tip my hand to who I might be supporting.”

She added that almost all of the candidates have sought her endorsement, and didn’t rule out endorsing Trump if he wins the GOP nomination, “but certainly we want to let Iowans make that decision.”

According to the poll, almost half of Haley’s supporters in Iowa said they would vote for Biden over Trump if they end up competing in the general election.

“Haley is consolidating the anti-Trump vote,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said,” reports NBC. “She does well with the people who define themselves as anti-Trump.”

Sandy Fitzgerald |

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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