OTR Interviews

Senator-elect Joni Ernst slams Obama's 'disingenuous' reaction to midterms

Midterms 2014: Fresh off win for Iowa's open Senate seat, new GOP star sounds off on Obama's comments, says midterms were truly a referendum on his failed policies. #2014Midterms

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 5, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A giant win for Republicans in Iowa. Joni Ernst defeating Democrat Bruce Braley in what started as a nail-biting race but, by the end, beating him by nine points for the open Senate seat. Ernst has been a State Senator and lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, and now Senator-Elect.

Joni Ernst joins us from Des Moines. Good evening and congratulations.

JONI ERNST, R-SENATOR-ELECT, IOWA: Thank you, Greta very much. Thanks for having me on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, everyone thought it was going to be a close race. I know we saw the "Des Moines Register" poll the other night. But it ended up not being a close race.

ERNST: Not at all. And I think we have our Independent voters to thank for that. They came out in droves and supported me in this election. It really was a referendum on President Obama's failed policies. And we see what Iowans thought of those policies.

VAN SUSTEREN: Last night, you said in your address that we're going to change direction. What is it -- change direction -- do you want to do?

ERNST: Well, we have to start addressing the issues that are important to Iowans, our jobs and economy, federal spending, which is out-of-control right now. Obamacare is not affordable. It is not quality health care for Iowans. All of these issues need to be addressed and we are ready to do that at the federal level now. So balancing our budget, finding a replacement for ObamaCare. And, of course, making sure that we have a strong national defense, also.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you hear President Obama speak by any chance today?

ERNST: I heard bits and pieces of it. I was not able to watch the entire address.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what you did hear, what did you think?

ERNST: Well, I think it's a little disingenuous at this point. He has had six years to work with Republicans. And now he is offering a hand and willing to sit down and work with Senator McConnell and our other soon- to-be colleagues. Again, six years we have had that opportunity to work together and move America in the right direction. But, he has been so disengaged and not willing to work with Republicans or even some members of his own party.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you get any phone calls from any other U.S. Senators or U.S. Senators-Elect since last night?

ERNST: Well, I have heard from a number of them, Senator Marco Rubio, of course; Tom Cotton, who is a Senator-Elect from Arkansas. I have heard from, of course, our own Senator Grassley. He was actually present last night at our victory celebration. So a number of other wonderful Republican Senators. And I did hear from Senator Harkin, who is retiring from the seat, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you are going to be even extra popular with the Iowa caucuses. I expect you will get a lot of phone calls, sort of like the law clerk to the federal judge who always gets phone calls.

(LAUGHTER)

You are going to be very popular. Are you aware of that, that you will get some extra attention?

ERNST: Well, I think by having the first-in-the-nation caucus status is exciting. And, of course, yes, we will have a number of 2016 presidential hopefuls which will want to come through Iowa. I'm happy to show all of them the wonderful attributes that Iowa has.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I'm a Midwesterner. I love Wisconsin. I love Iowa. I love all the states. But what in the world took Iowa so long to send a woman to Washington? Have you figured that one out?

ERNST: Well, Greta, I do believe it's because of Senator Harkin, who is retiring. He is our junior Senator after serving 30 years in the United States Senate. Senator Grassley has served for 34 years. And having both of them holding those offices for so long, there was little room, really, to beat out these very popular incumbents. And we don't see the House seats changing over very often, either. Once elected in Iowa, those incumbents generally stay in office.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So when you get to Washington, will you come down to ON THE RECORD or let me come up to the Hill and let me interview you in your new office?

ERNST: I would love that, Greta. You're welcome at any time.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, congratulations to you and we'll be watching. Thank you very much for joining us.

ERNST: Thanks, Greta.