‘A senator from Iowa should know the price of soybeans’: Republican faces awkward moment at debates

Chris Riotta
·2-min read
Senator Joni Ernst (R-Ia) appeared stumped when asked a basic question about the price of soybeans during the final debate in her bid for re-election on Friday, October 16. (Getty Images)
Senator Joni Ernst (R-Ia) appeared stumped when asked a basic question about the price of soybeans during the final debate in her bid for re-election on Friday, October 16. (Getty Images)

Call it an uncanny situation.

Asked a simple question about the current price of soybeans during the final senate debate in Iowa on Thursday night, Senator Joni Ernst — who touts her upbringing on a family farm along the campaign trail — was left looking confused and fumbling.

A clip of the moment from the debate has since gone viral, showing one of the moderators asking the Republican incumbent: “I don’t think you answered my question — what’s the breakeven price for soybeans in Iowa?”

“You grew up on a farm,” he added. “You should know this.”

Just before the clip started, Ms Ernst had already been asked once for the price of soybeans in her home state. She instead began discussing the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement passed under President Donald Trump, and how she said it positively impacted the corn industry in Iowa.

Theresa Greenfield, the Democratic candidate vying to unseat Ms Ernst, quickly latched on to the controversial moment, sharing the clip in a tweet that tagged the Republican and said: “A Senator from Iowa should know the price of soybeans, @joniernst.”

Ms Greenfield was also previously asked a question about the price of corn by moderator Ron Steele, to which she responded without hesitation.

“Well a bushel of corn is going for about $3.68, today, $3.69,” the Democratic candidate said, “and breakeven really just depends on the amount of debt someone has.”

Mr Steele responded: “That’s correct.”

The debate was the final chance Iowa voters had to see the two major party candidates face off against each other ahead before Election Day, as state polls show Ms Ernst and Ms Greenfield in an ever-tightening race.

Both candidates were also asked questions on a range of other issues, including health care, criminal justice reform and racism.

Asked whether she believes systemic racism exists in America, the Republican incumbent said “No, I don’t” and added: “I do believe that you will find racist individuals in those systems but I don’t believe that entire systems of people — of people — are racist. There are racists out there."

She also attacked her Democratic opponent, claiming Ms Greenfield “believes our law enforcement officers in Iowa, they are systemically racist”.

Ms Greenfield responded by noting “systemic racism does not mean that any one individual is a racist but rather that we have to take a look at the discrimination across our systems”.