Joni Ernst: ‘Impeachment’ of Obama should be on the table

The Republican candidate for the Iowa U.S. Senate seat called the president a “dictator” and said he must “face the consequences”

Joni Ernst: ‘Impeachment’ of Obama should be on the table

Sarah Palin might have called for the impeachment of President Barack Obama Tuesday, but Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst actually beat her to the punch by six months.

At a Montgomery County, Iowa, candidate forum in January, Ernst told a crowd that she believed Obama had “become a dictator” and that he needed to face the consequences for his executive actions, “whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment.”

The video, which was previously described to Yahoo News by a source, was posted, removed and then posted again online at AOL. Yahoo News was able to view a cached version of the previously unpublished video before it went live. The clip shows the January Montgomery County GOP Forum in Red Oak, Iowa. The Ernst campaign tweeted out a photograph of the forum Jan. 15.

Ernst was asked what “punishment” Obama should suffer if the Supreme Court ruled against him in a then-pending case on the constitutionality of his recess appointments, and what she would do as a senator to stop his “blatant abuse of power.” The Supreme Court has since ruled against the administration in that case.

“I do think that yes, he should face those repercussions, and whether that's removal from office, whether that's impeachment,” said Ernst, who is supported by the establishment and the tea party wings of her party in her quest to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat.

“As a U.S. senator, though, we have to push that issue, we can't be silent on things like that,” she said. “And unfortunately we have a number of legislators right now that simply let these things happen. They're not speaking up against these actions. They're not speaking out against the president when he oversteps his bounds, when he makes those appointments, when he's appointing czars, when he is producing executive orders in a threat to a Congress that won't do as he wishes. So he has become a dictator.”

Continued Ernst: “He is running amok. He is not following our Constitution, and unfortunately we have leaders who are not serving as leaders right now, they're not defending the Constitution and they're not defending you and me.”

On Tuesday, Ernst spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel downplayed the significance of the video and provided Yahoo News with the following statement: "If any president oversteps their bounds, there are procedures in place for Congress and the American people to hold him or her accountable. Impeachment is a strong word and should not be thrown around lightly.”

Ernst’s candidacy has been touted by national Republicans, who have been excited by the idea of adding another woman to the four currently in the Senate GOP conference. But conservatives have supported her candidacy as well, because of her tea party bona fides and some superficial similarities to Palin. Ernst’s folksy charm — she cut an entire campaign ad based on pig castration — has reminded some of Palin’s tone on the 2008 vice presidential trail.