Before Mike Pence got his job, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) was considered a top candidate to be Donald Trump’s running mate.
But Ernst recently revealed in divorce papers that she declined the offer because of marital troubles, saying that she was afraid her estranged husband would be jealous of her success.
Her husband held her back?
The senator explained in court papers that “concern” for her husband, Gail, and her family convinced her not to “soar high.”
“In the summer of 2016, I was interviewed by [c]andidate Trump to be vice president of the United States. I turned [him] down, knowing it wasn’t the right thing for me or my family,” she said. “I continued to make sacrifices and not soar higher out of concern for Gail and our family.”
Ernst was married to her ex-husband for 26 years before they divorced in August, and they officially split this month.
The divorce papers reveal a lurid account of the couple’s marital troubles.
Ernst claims that her husband beat her after she confronted him on an alleged affair he was having with their daughter’s babysitter. This marital discord was the context in which Sen. Ernst said she turned down the VP offer, she said.
“He hated any successes I had and would belittle me and get angry any time I achieved a goal,” Ernst recalled.
Ernst was considered a top contender for the position in 2016, and she met Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ that summer. However, she walked away from the meeting saying that she was “focusing on Iowa.”
“I made that very clear to him that I’m focused on Iowa. I feel that I have a lot more to do in the United States Senate. And Iowa is where my heart is,” she then said. But it now looks like there was more to the story.
Gail has disputed his wife’s account, saying: “I gave up all my aspirations and goals to be a good dad and husband so Joni could pursue her dreams.”
Sen. Ernst certainly has an impressive record; she is the first female combat veteran ever elected to the Senate, and she would have been the first female vice president ever, as well — had she taken the job and history played out the same way on election night.
But Mike Pence took the job, eventually becoming vice president after Trump’s historic upset in November 2016. And the rest is history.