One of the hottest properties in Campaign ’14 is Iowa state senator Joni Ernst, the hog-castrating, heat-packing endorsement magnet battling it out with self-funding energy executive Mark Jacobs for the right to take on Bruce Braley for the Harkin Senate seat. But Ernst is showing at least one sign of not being ready for prime-time, per a Buzzfeed account from Andrew Kaczynski. Asked in a Des Moines Register interview (one of those long-scheduled event an Iowa candidate should be prepared for at last as thoroughly as for a debate) about the WMD rationale for invading Iraq, Ernst had this to say:

We don’t know that there were weapons on the ground when we went in, however, I do have reason to believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That was the intelligence that was operated on. I have reason to believe there was weapons of mass destruction. My husband served in Saudi Arabia as an Army Central Command sergeant major for a year and that’s a hot-button topic in that area.

Now the right thing for a Republican candidate to say if she doesn’t want to honk off neocons is that there was “actionable intelligence” of WMD that the Bush administration felt constrained to act upon even if it turned out not to be true. You don’t want or need to say it was true, and particularly act as though you know some sort of secrets not available to everybody else. That hint will simply guarantee you get asked the question again, and that bloggers like me take notice of a weird answer to a question she should have disposed of quickly and definitively.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.