Sen. Ernst delivers response to State of the Union - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Sen. Ernst delivers response to State of the Union

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -

Freshman senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) delivered the GOP response to Pres. Obama' s State of the Union Address Tuesday night.

Ernst spoke live via satellite in front of a background that included U.S. and Iowa state flags, as well as flags representing branches of the military. It's the first time a first-year senator has delivered the response.

Ernst was sworn into office only two weeks ago.

"Tonight though, rather than respond to a speech, I'd like to talk about your priorities,” Ernst said. “I'd like to have a conversation about the new Republican Congress you just elected, and how we plan to make Washington focus on your concerns again.”

Ernst reportedly wore camouflage heels, a nod to her service in the National Guard. Her comments strayed into footwear as well.

“You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes,” Ernst said. “So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry. But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.”

She and the President touched on similar issues: infrastructure expansion, closing tax loopholes and addressing threat of terrorism abroad.

But much of her focus was on the struggles of the middle class.

"Not just in Red Oak, but across the country, we see our neighbors agonize over stagnant wages and lost jobs,” Ernst said. “We see the hurt caused by canceled healthcare plans and higher monthly insurance bills. We see too many moms and dads put their own dreams on hold while growing more fearful about the kind of future they'll be able to leave to their children.”

Delivering the GOP response is an honor, but not without risk for gaffes. In 2009, Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) was spoofed online for similarities to the character Kenneth Page on the NBC sitcom "30 Rock." In 2013, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) drew attention when he took a quick sip of water during the address.

Ernst's address did not escape criticism on Twitter. '#breadbags' was trending topic for several hours, with users posting edited photos of their feet in plastic sacks.

Ernst's colleague Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), released this statement.

“In closing, Senator Ernst is an ideal person to deliver the Republican response to the President's speech,” Grassley wrote. “She brings a new perspective that's welcome in Washington. I look forward to her leadership on military matters, farm policy, cutting wasteful spending, and everything else that's shaped by her background and fresh approach.”

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