Joni Ernst commences 2020 Senate campaign at Roast and Ride

The fifth-annual Roast and Ride in Boone, Iowa, served as the 2020 campaign kickoff for Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, waves to an audience with special guests former United States Ambassador Nikki Haley and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, concluding her annual Roast and Ride event in Boone, Iowa on Saturday, June 15, 2019. (Wyatt Dlouhy/The Daily Iowan)

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

BOONE, Iowa — Leading a pack of motorcycles, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, rode into her re-election campaign kickoff at the fifth-annual Roast and Ride on June 15, where supporters and elected Iowa officials honored veterans with speeches and a group motorcycle ride.

Ernst, Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley took the stage in Boone to advocate for the re-election of Ernst and President Trump.

Bikers gathered at the Big Barn Harley Davidson in Des Moines before flooding the streets on their way to the roast portion of the event.

“I do this one, because I love to ride,” Ernst said before embarking in Des Moines. “I love to get out and experience the freedom of the road. The second reason we do this is simply to honor our patriots and our veterans, and all of you here are our patriots and our veterans.”

Ernst commenced her Senate bid with a speech that outlined her accomplishments in office and looked forward to tackling the 2020 election.

“I will never stop standing up as Iowa’s tireless defender to ensure we stay the course toward a brighter future with opportunity for all,” Ernst said to the more than 1,000 registered attendees in Boone. “As we kick off this campaign, I ask you to join me on this mission to stand up to socialism and protect the important balance between government responsibility and individual liberty.”

Grassley, Reynolds, and Haley used the Roast and Ride platform to praise Trump and advocate for the importance of Ernst’s place in the Senate. Reynolds said the economy is booming and unemployment is at its lowest in years with Republicans in leadership.

“We need to do everything we can to keep Joni in the Senate and keep our Republican team strong, because if we don’t, we know what’s in store — higher taxes, more regulations, fewer jobs, and of course, lower paychecks,” Reynolds told the crowd in Boone.

Haley, the keynote speaker, discussed her efforts as former U.N. ambassador and called on Republican support in 2020 to avoid “open borders, socialist health care, the Green New Deal, and political correctness.”

Regarding tariffs on Iowa’s agricultural products, Ernst told reporters before Roast and Ride that farmers and manufacturers would be grateful for a trade deal with China that works while also remaining enforceable. Trade disputes with China have led to high tariffs on agriculture products and automobiles.

“I’ve talked to the president,” Ernst said in Des Moines. “He knows that I’m not necessarily a tariff gal, but he’ll tell me, well I’m a tariff guy. So I’m pushing back on him when I think it’s necessary, but at the same time, what I’m hearing from some farmers across the state is that they are OK with the stance with China.”

Ernst said proceeds from Roast and Ride will be contributed to the Iowa-based nonprofit organization Retrieving Freedom Inc., which raises service dogs for children with autism and veterans with disabilities.

Glenda Mathre attended Roast and Ride with husband Larry, who rode his motorcycle with the group from Des Moines. They both plan on voting for Ernst in 2020. Larry Mathre said he hopes Ernst accomplishes what she proposes along the campaign trail for the upcoming election.

“I like that [the politicians] brought up what they stand for, and it was great to see Nikki Haley,” Glenda Mathre said. “She really did a lot while ambassador for United Nations, and I appreciate the stances that she made.”