Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is zeroing in on a running mate and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst could wind up being the blustery billionaire's first choice. Trump met Monday with Ernst, fueling speculation that she will be standing with him when he announces his vice president candidate during the GOP's Cleveland convention July 18-21.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that it was "great" to spend time with her. "She has done a fantastic job for the people of Iowa and U.S. Will see her again!" he posted to Twitter.
Ernst is a retired National Guard lieutenant colonel and a veteran of the Iraq war who could beef up Trump's credentials concerning foreign policy. She was elected to the Senate in 2014, making history as Iowa's first-ever female member of Congress.
Her campaign painted her as a folksy alternative to Washington elite. The Washington Post wrote at the time that she was a "biscuit-baking, gun-shooting, twangy, twinkly farm girl and mother whose ads emphasize her knowledge of hog castration." Her supporters would yell for her to "make 'em squeal."
In her relatively brief time in the Senate, the conservative has been vocal in her opposition of Planned Parenthood. Her first major legislative push was a bill last July to defund the group that provides abortions, as well as many women's health services. Ernst is also considered a possible keynote speaker at the Republican convention.
"I had a good conversation with Donald Trump today and we discussed what I am hearing from Iowans as I travel around the state on my 99 county tour, and the best path forward for our country," Ernst said in a statement following her meeting with Trump. "I will continue to share my insights with Donald about the need to strengthen our economy, keep our nation safe, and ensure America is always a strong, stabilizing force around the globe."
Ernst is on the short-list of possible Trump VP picks, CNN reported, citing sources with knowledge of the process. Other names being floated include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. An advisor to Trump told CNN that Ernst was seemingly less enthusiastic about being considered than other candidates, who jumped at the opportunity.
Trump is a controversial figure and some within the GOP are still considering an 11th hour attempt at taking the nomination from the businessman at the convention. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton leads him in the polls in a hypothetical general election, although recent polls have shown that margin narrowing.