- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2015

The political action committee of freshman Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican, announced Monday that a handful of 2016 Republican presidential contenders are slated to attend the senator’s inaugural “Roast and Ride” event on June 6.

Confirmed speakers include the following announced presidential candidates: retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Other Republicans weighing presidential bids who are also scheduled to speak include Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“I look forward to welcoming a great line-up of speakers to our inaugural event,” Ms. Ernst said. “It’s my hope that we can bring together candidates and caucus-goers alike over some Iowa barbecue to hear these individuals share their fresh ideas and vision for how we get our country growing again for all Americans.”

Ms. Ernst quickly rose to prominence during the battle for control of the U.S. Senate in the 2014 midterms, giving Republicans a big pick-up with her victory over Democrat Bruce Braley. She has said she’s going to stay neutral in the Republican presidential primary, but the event still offers the contenders and potential contenders a chance to pitch themselves to possible caucus-goers.

Before the roast, Ms. Ernst is going to lead a motorcycle ride with “veterans and patriots” from Big Barn Harley Davidson in Des Moines to the Central Iowa Expo site west of Ames.

She said during a recent taping of “Iowa Press” that Mr. Walker has said he will ride.

“I did visit with Marco Rubio on the floor of the Senate the other day, and he’s like, ‘Well, I don’t ride.’ I said you can ride on the back of mine,” Ms. Ernst said.

“I might need a sidecar,” she added. “But the ride is actually a very small portion of what we will be doing. We are going to honor our veterans as well as many patriots on this ride portion of the event.”

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