Are Joni Ernst or Mike Pence Donald Trump’s VP Pick? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is a rising contender in the Donald Trump Veepstakes. Numerous news outlets are reporting that she’s now on Trump’s short list as he nears announcing a choice. On July 4, Trump Tweeted that he was meeting Ernst in New Jersey:

Trump met with another contender over the July 4 weekend in private: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Pence told the news media that he played golf with Trump and Trump “beat me like a drum.” He also said the two “talked about our country, we talked about the progress we’ve made in Indiana,” according to NBC News. The New York Times said Pence, a religious conservative favorite, has been rising in Trump’s estimation as a potential running mate recently.
The UK Daily Mail quickly reminded readers that Ernest, elected to the U.S. Senate in Iowa just two years ago, had famously appeared in a campaign ad entitled “Squeal,” in which she talked about castrating a pig as a child.

Watch the ad here:

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However, Ernst also would bring several decades of military credentials to the Trump ticket. But does that mean she’s got the nod? Not so fast.

Those were the two names getting recent buzz, as the Republican National Convention in Cleveland approaches fast. The New York Times has reported that Trump wants to announce his pick before the convention starts July 18 and could even do so the week of July 4.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) practices the Republican response she gave after U.S. President Obama's State of the Union address in 2015. (Getty)

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) practices the Republican response she gave after U.S. President Obama’s State of the Union address in 2015. (Getty)

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Joni Ernst Has Emerged On Donald Trump’s Vice Presidential Short List, News Reports Say

Joni Erst photo. (Getty)

Joni Erst photo. (Getty)

CNN reported, quoting sources, that Joni Ernst was now on Trump’s list of potential picks. However, CNN added this caveat:

It’s not clear whether the freshman Republican senator and tea party star has received paperwork from the campaign or is just being scrutinized through the wealth of publicly accessible information about her.

In mid-June, Ernst had told reporters that Trump hadn’t contacted her and she didn’t expect to be chosen as VP. She said then, “I think he must have his eyes set on somebody else, and that’s OK.”

The Des Moines Register says Ernst could help Trump neutralize charges that he’s sexist, narrow the gender gap, bring youth and rural roots to the ticket, and add military experience to it.

On the downside, the Register noted that Trump could balk at picking Ernst because she’s only served in the Senate for two years, and he’s got no government experience himself. The newspaper said a vice presidential scholar had found that first-time vice presidents chosen since 1976 had an average of 14.5 years serving in high government jobs. Ernst also served four years in the Iowa state Senate and was a county auditor. The Daily Caller points out that Iowa is a swing state, which could help Trump.

2. Other Prominent Candidates Are Still Being Vetted

Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrinch. (Getty)

Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrinch. (Getty)

According to CNN, the other candidates still under consideration other than Pence and Ernst are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “A senior Trump campaign adviser confirmed Pence is being formally vetted,” said CNN. The UK Daily Mail says Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is still being talked about also. The New York Times said the Trump campaign is vetting Gingrich and Christie.

In fact, on June 30, the Washington Post reported that Gingrich and Christie were the leading contenders. Of Pence, the Post said, “A longer shot on Trump’s radar is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a heavyweight on the right who could bolster Trump’s tepid support among some conservative activists.” Pence, a first term governor, supported Ted Cruz in the primary, the New York Times says.

3. The Pence-Trump Meeting Included Members of their Families

Mike Pence in 2009. (Getty)

Mike Pence in 2009. (Getty)

With Ernst’s profile as a possible Trump pick rising fast, there came news that Pence met with Trump. However, the Indiana governor told reporters that Trump did not offer him the vice presidential spot, at least not yet, NBC News reported. NBC News quoted Pence as saying:

What I could tell you this was a very enjoyable personal time between two families and we got to know each other a lot better, and nothing was offered, nothing was accepted.

NBC said Trump’s wife, Melania, was there, as was Pence’s wife, Karen, and one of his daughters. Heavy previously reported that Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, and has a background in law and in talk radio. “His political career began in 2001, when he was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2012, he became Indiana’s governor when he defeated his Democratic opponent John Gregg.” The Pences, married over 30 years, have two daughters and a son.

According to ABC News, the meeting happened at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. ABC said Trump initiated the meeting.

4. Joni Ernst Is a Tea Party Favorite in Iowa & Has a Military Background

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) speaks to guests  at the Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Getty)

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Getty)

In 2014, when she ran for U.S. Senate, Heavy.com rounded up some of her top positions. For starters, she advocated eliminating the EPA, IRS, and Department of Education. Her husband once controversially called Hillary Clinton a “lying hag” on Facebook. The Tea Party endorsed Ernst for Senate, calling her a “strong conservative.”

According to the Des Moines Register, Ernst has over 20 years of military experience, including in combat. She has served in the Army Reserves and Army National Guard, and was deployed to Kuwait during the Iraq war as a commander in the Iowa National Guard, the Des Moines Register says.

The Des Moines Register says that Ernst showed appeal across the Republican Party because she was endorsed by both Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. She serves on the Armed Services Committee.

5. Social Media Reaction Over Joni Ernst Making the List was Sharply Divided

These two Tweets pretty much sum it up when it comes to that point. An Ernst pick would be polarizing: