Mitt Romney was back in Iowa on Friday for the first time since his 2012 presidential election loss, turning on the campaign charm to laud GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst's experience as a combat veteran, state lawmaker – and her "squealing work on the farm."
The campaign stump was also Romney's first during the 2014 election season, the Des Moines Register
"If you're to take out a dictionary someday, my guess is you could look up 'Iowan' and you'd turn to the page and there'd be a picture of Joni Ernst," Romney told a rally at the Cedar Rapids' Veterans Memorial Building, the newspaper said.
Referencing Ernst's now-famous television ad, "Squeal," in which she vowed to take the hog castration skills she learned on the farm to Washington to "make 'em squeal," Romney called Ernst "a real Iowan in a lot of respects."
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"She was raised here, she worked on a farm. She didn't just sit at home needle-pointing, as you know, she was doing some work on the farm – squealing work on the farm," he said.
Ernst is one of about 20 Republicans Romney has backed in his re-emergence on the political scene, the Register reported.
"I tell you, in Washington, if you want them not just to squeal, but if you want real change, you want someone to shake things up, Joni Ernst will shake things up in Washington," Romney said.
The winner of Tuesday's GOP primary — the latest poll
has her with a 10-point lead over her nearest competitor — will take on Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley, a lawyer, the lone Democrat in the election to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin.
On Thursday night, Ernst continued to press her conservative views at a debate,
saying she would have voted against the farm bill, the Clean Water Act, and gay marriage, and that she opposes amnesty and a federal minimum wage.
At Friday's rally, Romney spoke nostalgically about being back on the campaign trail.
"Old friends, I got a call asking if I might be able to come here, do an event for Joni, I thought, 'Boy, it would be fun to come back to Cedar Rapids, Iowa,'" he said. "When you run for national office, people think, 'Oh, it must be awful – all the rubber chicken, all the nights in hotels, the fundraisers, the speeches, the adoring press.'"
"But the truth is, it's a marvelous experience. It's fantastic," he said. "I got a chance to meet wonderful people and be in some terrific places."
He then took a jab at his former campaign rival, President Barack Obama.
"Our foreign policy is not where we'd like it to be," he said. "We've seen real reversals in the interests of freedom in places like Syria and parts of the Middle East, and we've seen Russia now take over Crimea. The administration's foreign policy has not worked."
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