TIME 2014 Election

Iowa Senate Candidate Says Castration Gives Her Conservative Cred

There is so little left in national politics to delight us. The candidates, for the most part, are scripted, strident and narrow people who betray their actual humanity at their own peril. The races are costly, vicious affairs. And Americans almost never approve of an elections outcome once the winners settle into office.

But the last five years have brought one big bright spot to the political circus: Because of the viral nature of the Internet, the ads are just getting better. The latest case in point is a new 30-second jewel by Joni Ernst, who has an uphill climb to replace retiring Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. Her pitch: I can castrate pigs so I am the perfect conservative for Iowa to send to the Senate.

Not only does she remove pig testicles, she smiles talking about it. The gender politics behind the spot—Ernst would join only four other female Republicans in the Senate if she wins—are both bold and hilarious. In a city of broken down men, she tells voters, it will take a woman with a knife to fix things. “Let’s make ‘em squeal,” she announces. And at that point she is no longer talking about pigs, at least not of the livestock type.

Ernst, a state legislator and veteran of the 2003 Iraq war, is running in a crowded field of Republicans, which includes Mark Jacobs, the former CEO of Reliant Energy, who has so far not disclosed any pig-slicing expertise. Whoever wins the primary, however, is expected to have a tough time beating Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. A March 13 Quinnipiac poll found Braley with double-digit leads over most of his possible GOP opponents.

But then that was before the pigs started to squeal.

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