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Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa arrives at a NH delegation breakfast in Cleveland on July 19, 2016

Jul 19, 2016 1:48 PM

Sen. Ernst speaks with NH convention delegation but avoids NH press corps

NH1 News Political Director

CLEVELAND – Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa addressed the New Hampshire delegation to the Republican convention on Tuesday morning, but the rising star in the GOP didn’t talk with Granite State media.

Ernst was the main attraction at a New Hampshire delegation breakfast in suburban Cleveland.

The first term U.S. senator, who’s considered a possible contender for the 2020 GOP nomination if Donald Trump loses November’s presidential election to Hillary Clinton, didn’t talk much about herself. Instead Ernst devoted much of her comments to praising Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who’s facing a difficult re-election this year against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

“God bless Kelly Ayotte,” Ernst said. “We need to keep Kelly Ayotte in the United States Senate because she is a great partner and she knows how to work across the aisle.”

Ernst, along with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, campaigned with Ayotte in New Hampshire in early March.

As she arrived, Ernst declined a request by NH1 News to answer a few questions. The senator apologized, saying “I’m going to pass this time. Sorry. I’ve got a head cold.”

After speaking to the delegation, Ernst avoided the four New Hampshire reporters waiting for her at the main entrance to the restaurant where the breakfast was being held. Instead she departed through a back door, and accompanied by two aides, quickly jumped into her waiting car.

NH1 News again attempted to ask the senator questions, but her vehicle drove off.

Ernst spoke at the New Hampshire delegation breakfast hours after giving a hard hitting convention speech aimed at Hillary Clinton. But Ernst was scheduled as one of the last speakers of the evening, addressing the crowd at around 11pm Monday night. Ernst took to the stage after the conclusion of the main speech of the night, by Trump’s wife Melania. When Ernst began her comments, much of the Quicken Loans Arena was empty, as delegates had already streamed out.

Ernst, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa national guard and who served in Iraq, is the first female veteran elected to the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa addresses the New Hampshire delegation to the Republican convention, as a breakfast in suburban Cleveland on July 19, 2016

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