Sen. Ernst: ‘We Should Talk About’ Bases ‘Named For Generals That Took Up Arms Against The United States’
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) talks to reporters just off the Senate floor during a recess in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on February 3, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

On Sunday, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Dana Bash to discuss a variety of topics.

Bash first asked Ernst about President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech, which he delivered during his recent Independence Day celebration. Some in the mainstream press have characterized the speech as “dark” and “divisive.”

Bash played a brief clip in which Trump said: “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. … No movement that seeks to dismantle these treasured American legacies can possibly have a love of America at its heart.”

The host then asked Ernst if she is “comfortable with that.”

The Senator responded, saying that there is much “frustration across the United States,” and that she believes the U.S. is the “greatest nation on the face of the planet” despite past sins.

“We need to come together and have some very hard discussions about our past,” Ernst said. “But the great thing about this nation is that we can learn from those blemishes, learn from those hard times in the past, and continue to evolve as a continually blessed nation.”

Bash asked Ernst if the majority of demonstrations seen across the country have been “peaceful,” and the senator agreed that there have been “many peaceful protests,” and that she supports such things.

However, Ernst also condemned the violent rioters, some of whom have been tearing down statues of historical figures, saying of such behavior: “We can’t allow that to happen.”

After Ernst emphasized the need to have “very hard discussions” if we are to “come together” as a nation, Bash asked the senator about a “must-pass military spending bill that the president is now threatening to veto because it would rename U.S. bases named after Confederate officers.”

BASH: You sit on the Armed Services Committee. You support renaming those bases. Should the president sign the bill?

ERNST: Well, I absolutely believe that we need to have a discussion on this – and, again, sometimes, those discussions are very hard. But I do believe that we should talk about these military bases that were named for generals that took up arms against the United States.

So, I welcome that discussion. I think we all should. And, again, we want to focus on the meaningful things that will move our country forward, but I don’t believe in the destruction, again, of property. If we’re talking about statues that belong to other jurisdictions – those decisions should be made at that local level, not by those that are out there vandalizing that property.

So, again, hard discussions all the way around, but we need to have a little bit of peace across the nation. And we can only do that if we’re all sitting down in discussions.

“So, just to be clear, that’s basically what the bill says, is to start the process,” Bash said. “Given that, should the president sign the bill?”

Ernst replied: “Well, I would love that he would sign the bill and move forward. But, absolutely, we have to have the discussions. We have to do that. And if that’s what will help, if we can all get together as stakeholders, then I think it’s the right thing to do.”

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