Sexism Row After Democrat Compares Joni Ernst to a 'Chick'

Thursday, 05 Jun 2014 04:13 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Republicans slammed a Democrat's television ad on Thursday that compares Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst to a chick.

"Let's not forget that national Democrats have made claims of misogyny and unfair attacks against women the centerpiece of their electoral strategy," Brook Hougesen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee told The Des Moines Register. "Does anyone doubt that if a male Republican candidate ran an ad comparing a female Democratic candidate to a chick, reporters' inboxes would be filled with outraged press releases demanding that the ad be condemned and taken down? Of course not."

The 30-second spot — called "Peep" — was released by Rep. Bruce Braley's campaign on Wednesday, the day after Ernst beat out four challengers in a GOP primary. Braley and Ernst will meet in the November general election.

Ernst, who served in the Iowa Senate, built her campaign on pledges to cut the pork in Washington. A National Guard lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq, she garnered national attention with a TV spot boasting of "castrating pigs."

She and Braley are vying for the seat vacated by the retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.

In the spot, a peeping chick is heard between attacks on Ernst's budget-cutting promises.

"When she had the chance to do something in Iowa, we didn't hear a peep," the spot says. "In the state Senate, Ernst never sponsored a bill to cut pork. Never wrote one measure to slash spending."

The spot launched a firestorm on Twitter, the Register reports.

Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa, started it off by saying on Wednesday:

Republican political strategist David Kochel, an Ernst supporter, asked:

But political analyst Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report responded:

Hougesen of the NSRC blasted the ad as "tone deaf" and "elitist" for patronizing Iowa residents. It smacked of "blatant hypocrisy," she added, given the Democrats' effort to paint Republicans as waging a "war on women."

Braley also "should be embarrassed by this ad," she told the Register.

However, Sarah Benzing, Braley's campaign manager, mounted a strong defense of the spot.

"That we still haven't heard a peep from state Sen. Ernst's campaign on the substance of our ad shows just how clearly her record does not live up to the image she's portraying on TV," she told the Register in a statement. "The facts matter, and the truth is, state Sen. Ernst talks a lot about cutting pork, but her actions are something else entirely."

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