Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, on Sunday declined to endorse the Republican presidential candidate a day before the Iowa caucuses, but said she would not rule out supporting former President Donald Trump if he wins the state.
In an interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press” program, Ernst also answered a question about the former United Nations ambassador. A favorable opinion of Nikki Haley in the general election matchup against Biden said Haley is a “great candidate” and has experience on key issues that could resonate with Iowa Republicans.
Trump He has a nearly 30-point lead in the NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll before the Monday caucuses. The poll also shows Haley narrowly leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, 16% to 20%.
“Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker asked the GOP senator about his response to a recent poll.
“In our survey [Haley] coming in second,” Welker said. “But if you look at the general polls, he’s doing the best against President Biden in the general election campaign. Former President Trump is effectively tied to President Biden. If Republicans want to take back the White House, is Nikki Haley the best choice for you?”
Ernst replied, “If you look at the top issues for Iowa Republicans, they’re the economy, they’ve suffered under President Biden, it’s the southern border and the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. But overall, if you look at national security, protecting our borders, and fighting our enemies around the world, Nikki Haley has experience there, and she really spoke to the voters of Iowa about that. So that might be one of those things that resonates with a lot of different voters.”
Asked which candidate he plans to support to win after the Iowa caucuses, Ernst said, “It will depend, I’ve been going back and forth in my mind,” acknowledging that Trump is the frontrunner in the race. away
“But this is not a foregone conclusion,” he said. “So we’ll see who wins the Iowa caucuses.” We will know tomorrow evening and then we will know how to move forward.
Pressed again on whether he would endorse Trump if he wins the Iowa caucuses, Ernst reiterated his refusal to weigh in, but said he has decided who he will run for.
“We’re going to see a margin, I guess, assuming President Trump wins, but it could be any of these fantastic candidates,” he said. “So we’ll see who comes out again. I’ve made up my mind on who to nominate – it’s a personal vote. And I expected that we would have a very good turnout. But again, Kristen, I won’t be reaching out to someone I can support.
Ernst later said that almost all the candidates have approached him for his endorsement, but he did not rule out supporting Trump if he wins the nomination.
“No, I don’t rule it out at all. But we certainly want to let Iowa make that decision,” he said.
New NBC News/Des Moines Register poll It found that a majority of Republican committee members said they would vote for Trump in the general election if he won the GOP nomination, but nearly half of Haley’s supporters in Iowa said they would vote for Biden over Trump in a general election contest.
“Haley boosts anti-Trump vote, pollster J. Ann Selzer said. “He’s good with people who call themselves anti-Trump.”