Former President George H.W. Bush endorsed Iowa Republican Joni Ernst in her tight race for the U.S. Senate on Saturday, praising her "dedication and service to our country."
"She is a soldier and independent leader who proved her mettle leading 150 Iowan troops in Iraq — and who will continue fighting for those who have worn our nation’s uniform," Bush said in a statement on Ernst's campaign website
. "I have total confidence Joni will make Iowa proud in the United States Senate, and I’m very pleased to endorse her."
Bush, 90, who served in the Navy during World War II, has only endorsed two other GOP candidates in 2014 races, the Des Moines Register
They are Senate candidate David Perdue in Georgia — though his Democratic opponent, Michelle Nunn, released a campaign ad picturing her and Bush together — and Maine Gov. Paul LePage.
Both Republicans are locked in heated races.
Ernst, 44, who is a state senator, is squaring off against Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley for the seat now held by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
Recent polls show Ernst ahead by just 1 percentage point
, 45 percent to 44 percent.
Ernst served in the Iraq War and remains a commander in the Iowa Army National Guard. She has picked up several key endorsements during her campaign, including those from 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Rice, who backed Ernst earlier this week, served under former President George W. Bush.
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