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The confirmation hearing for nominees to serve on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority turned awkward Wednesday, when Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, confronted one of President Biden’s picks for calling her “hideous” on social media.
Ernst began by noting that Geer said in a written statement that one reason why she believes she should serve on the TVA is her ability to “build relationships and work together.”
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After Geer agreed that she also believes that civility is key to working on the TVA board, Ernst claimed that this “appears to be a recent sentiment,” revealing a 2015 tweet in which Geer posted “hideous,” in response to a Fox News tweet featuring an image of Ernst and a quote from her State of the Union response that she delivered that year.
When asked if she could explain the tweet, Geer first said she could not read it, so she had Ernst read it back.
“Well, I apologize if I offended you, and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention,” Geer then said. “And I do, in fact, believe that civility is key, and I’m sorry that I did not demonstrate that, in your opinion, with that tweet.”
Ernst was not satisfied with that response, and she returned to the tweet later in the hearing.
“Maybe you’ve had time to refresh your memory a bit,” Ernst said. “I’m not sure if you’ve made a habit of calling women that disagree with you ‘hideous,’ or if it was simply an exception, but please let me be very clear. I stand by everything that I said in my State of the Union response back in 2015.”
Ernst then reminded everyone listening that the tweet was before former President Donald Trump took office, implying that it could not be blamed on Trump setting an example for Twitter use.
“This is prior to that. This is not Iowa nice, folks. And I’m calling you out.”
Ernst explained how in that speech she spoke out in favor of the Keystone Pipeline, confronting terror groups, and her own experiences as the Senate’s first female combat veteran.
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“Miss Geer, when you called me hideous, were you referring to my appearance or to the views that I held, and are held by many Americans across this country?”
Geer denied that her tweet had anything to do with the senator’s looks.
“For the clarification, obviously, I was not calling you personally hideous, and certainly not your appearance, and again I apologize if it came across that way, I mean no disrespect,” Geer said.
Ernst was not quick to accept that explanation, explaining how even if Geer was referring to the content of Ernst’s speech, that would be a big problem.
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“Ma’am, I’ll cut you off right there. How else could this come across? The word hideous, to me, only has one meaning. And the views I expressed in my State of the Union response. And the views I expressed in my State of the Union response were personal experiences. So maybe you didn’t appreciate that I grew up on a small, rural farm in an economically disadvantaged area of Iowa. Maybe you didn’t like that my mother had to put bread bags on my shoes when I went to school. Maybe you didn’t like that, but a lot of Americans have had the same experiences that I have had. And so to call my personal views as hideous is an affront to half of America.”
Ernst wrapped up by stating that “in a world begging for civility, we should give them that civility,” doubting that Geer is capable of doing so and declaring that she will be voting against Geer, even though she has a record of being “one of the most bipartisan senators of either party in the last 25 years.”