The Iowa Republican Senator-to-Be Who Thinks Iraq Had WMD

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 12 2014 6:41 PM

The Iowa Republican Senator-to-Be Who Thinks Iraq Had WMD


Courtesy of

Around the time that the Washington Post was publishing a fairly flattering piece about how her campaign had delved into hog castration and found narrative, Joni Ernst was facing a Des Moines Register interrogation. It didn't go as well as the castrations. This is the bit Democrats glommed onto:

DMR: Do you believe there was actionable intelligence to go into Iraq?
ERNST: I do believe at that time there was. I wasn't at a level to know. Obviously, the president thought there was actionable intelligence. So, as an Iraqi War veteran I stand beside that. And I stand beside every other soldier I served with in believing we were on a clearly defined mission to go into Iraq.
DMR: Even though Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction?
ERNST: We don't know that there were weapons on the ground when we went in. However, I do have reason to believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That was the intelligence that was operated on. I was not at a level to question.
DMR: Are you now?
ERNST: I have reason to believe there was weapons of mass destruction.
DMR: What is the reason?
ERNST: I will tell you, my husband served in Saudi Arabia as an Army Central Command sergeant major for a year and that's a hot-button topic in that area.

Pat Caldwell got a response from the campaign—Ernst was making "the point was that we know for a fact that Iraq had chemical weapons in the past, and had even used them." This wasn't exactly what Ernst said, and while she gets piñata'd around, I wonder if this video is much of a problem for her.

Consider: As recently as 2012, when polled on questions about the Iraq war, a supermajority of Republicans—67 percent—thought that Iraq had WMD when America went in. Consider also that Ernst's campaign thus far is pure tribalism, ads about the aforementioned barnyard skills and ads about how she keeps a pistol in her purse. She's an Iraq war veteran; if she wins the primary, she faces a Democratic trial lawyer who did not serve. Notice how her answer is 90 percent about her own service and patriotism, and how she rejects the idea that her fellow soldiers fought for a lie.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 6:49 PM God’s Oligarch One of Vladimir Putin’s favorite businessmen wants to start an Orthodox Christian Fox News and return Russia to its glorious czarist past.
Oct. 20 2014 6:48 PM Apple: Still Enormously Profitable
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.