Joni Ernst plans to "take Iowa by storm" in her bid for the Senate, the Republican primary winner said in her first interview since Tuesday's race.
Ernst, 43, won handily in the Iowa Republican primary, taking 56 percent of the vote, according to Realclearpolitics.com.
She will meet Democrat Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley in the fall election for the Senate seat previously held by Democrat Tom Harkin, who is stepping down.
"We have got a long road ahead of us, but we had a great primary victory last night. We're going to continue the momentum," Ernst told "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday. "We're going to take Iowa by storm."
Ernst gained national attention for an ad she aired
touting that she "grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm." In the ad, she said the experience would enable her to "know how to cut pork" when she got to Washington, D.C. Ernst said the story was first used in a debate.
"It's a line that I had used in a debate last fall. And we got such a great response from the audience that we thought, you know, this is a great way to connect with Iowa voters," she said.
Ernst grew up on a southwest Iowa farm and attended Iowa State University. She said it was a trip to the Soviet Union during college that led her to public service, first in the military, and then in the state Senate.
She "participated in an agricultural exchange to the Soviet Union. Saw how they lived over there. And when I returned to the United States, I decided the way I can give back is to serve my country. So,I did join Army ROTC, was commissioned as an officer after college, and now serve in the Iowa Army National Guard and the Iowa state Senate," she said.
With her experience in the military, she said if she were in the U.S. Senate, she would question the events that led to the prisoner exchange
of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was swapped Saturday for five Gitmo detainees.
"I would ask how this happened. I have very serious concerns about how we put ourselves as a nation in this situation," she said.
She also expressed relief for the release of a "soldier that has been returned into U.S. hands."
Speaking to the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs
that revealed the existence of secret wait lists and delays in healthcare for veterans, Ernst called for a complete overhaul of the agency to take place "immediately."
"The VA, we have to start all over. Top down. Let's reform the VA. Our veterans have fought very hard for us. And as a servicewoman who has served overseas in a time of war, I know the sacrifices our men and women face every day," she said.
The first order of business Ernst would initiate if she succeeds in her Senate bid would be to balance the federal budget.
"I think absolutely we have to have a balanced budget amendment. And I would work very hard for that. We can't spend more than we take in," Ernst said.
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