DES MOINES, Iowa—Former Gov. Mitt Romney joined Republican Joni Ernst to help rally her supporters on Sunday night, encouraging them to help get Ernst over the edge in the Iowa Senate race, which remains in a virtual dead heat.

Romney, the Republican presidential candidate in 2012, has become the go-to star for GOP Senate campaigns across the country as the party seeks to regain control of the chamber this fall. The former Massachusetts governor sounded relaxed and spoke in an almost folksy manner in front of about 150 attendees at the Iowa Farm Bureau headquarters.

“[Joni’s] going to be an extraordinary breath of fresh air there in Washington,” he said. “I can’t wait to see her go there and make them squeal,” he added, referring to Ernst’s widely discussed ad earlier this year where she touted her experience castrating hogs on an Iowa farm in her youth.

While Romney claims he will not run for president a third time in 2016, political analysts continue to speculate about his chances. A Des Moines Register poll released on Saturday found that likely Iowa voters would slightly favor Romney over presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton—by 44 to 43 percent—in a hypothetical 2016 matchup.

Romney continued to slam President Barack Obama’s foreign policy at the Iowa event, and by extension that of Ernst’s opponent, Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa. Braley has long opposed both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is hesitant about taking more action to combat Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

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