It’s rare when a candidate for office has to say that they are “appalled” by something that their spouse has done, but here we are.
Joni Ernst just won the Republican nomination for the Senate in Iowa. Two recent polls show that Ernst has a slight lead over her Democratic opponent, Congressman Bruce Baley (D). However, Ernst now finds herself enmeshed in a Facebook scandal, and one not even of her own doing: instead, she is being forced to attack her own husband’s Facebook comments.
As first noticed this past Monday by Buzzfeed, Joni’s husband, Gail, posted this to his Facebook page:
Clearly, calling a former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and Democratic front-runner for President a “hag” is not something anyone in the public life should ever do.
When the story first broke on Monday, a campaign spokesman said that Ernst disagreed with her husbands comments:
Like in all marriages, sometimes a husband and wife don’t agree. In this case, Joni certainly doesn’t agree with the tone of his comments, and she has shared that with him privately. He knows how she feels about showing respect for others, and especially women.
Sensing blood in the water, Democratic operatives scoured Gail Ernst’s Facebook page and found even more offensive material, including jokes about shooting an ex and referring to former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, as a “traitorous skank.” All of the offensive posts have since been deleted, and Ernst has since set his Facebook page to private.
The additional posts forced Joni Ernst herself to make a strident condemnation of her husband’s comments, resulting in a very rare public rebuke of a candidate’s spouse by the candidate:
I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks. They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I’ve addressed this issue with my husband, and that’s between us.
Gail Ernst also chimed in with an apology, saying in a statement, “I would like to apologize for the inappropriate comments I have made on Facebook, which I deeply regret. It is not the respect that women deserve or the example I want to set for my daughters.”
In the past, I’ve said that any candidate running for elected office needs to review their social media presence for any potentially offensive material. However, when you hit a high enough level, that rule also applies to your spouse, particularly if there is content that is as patently offensive as the type that Gail Ernst displayed here.
What do you think? Is this fair game? Let me know in the comments!