Speed Reads

not holding back

The crowd at Joni Ernst's town hall was not pleased when she abruptly left

Fielding questions from her constituents for a whole 45 minutes wore down Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Tuesday, causing her to flee and the audience to roar.

Ernst was in the tiny town of Maquoketa, population 6,062, for a roundtable with veterans. When she arrived at city hall, slipping through a side door, she found 100 people crammed inside the room, CNN reports, with dozens more filling the hallways and atrium. The microphone being used by constituents repeatedly cut in and out, frustrating people in the room who couldn't hear what was being said, and Ernst only took one question from a non-veteran, a man who asked her about the Affordable Care Act. When she uttered the words "health savings accounts," Ernst was met with a chorus of boos.

The meeting came to a jarring end after only 45 minutes, despite a long line of people waiting at the microphone to ask more questions, causing the crowd to boo and jeer. One of the attendees, Deb Sperry, 61, told CNN she drove 45 miles to the event because Ernst "never has any type of town hall or meeting with her constituents" where she lives. The senator says she is in the "early stages" of visiting every county in Iowa, but critics say Ernst's visits often take the form of private tours of factories and businesses and she hasn't had any public events in towns where people outnumber livestock. If Tuesday's meeting — which ended with the crowd shouting "We want our voices heard!" and "Your last term!" as she made a hasty exit — is any indication of the events to come, Ernst might want to consider holding her next roundtable in an undisclosed corn field. Catherine Garcia