The easiest decision Republicans will make this year.

In a statement, Ernst said she is “truly honored” to have been tapped by GOP leaders.

“It’s a long way from Red Oak, Iowa, to Washington, D.C.,” she said. “But now that I am here, I am excited to get to work in order to craft and implement real solutions as we chart a new path forward for our great nation. During this Congress, we must help grow a vibrant economy, see to it that our veterans receive promised quality care and that our military has the tools to defend our nation’s security, and ensure the federal government begins to run more effectively and efficiently.”

She won handily in a crucial presidential primary state, a key victory in the GOP’s Senate takeover. She’s popular with both wings of the party, having had Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin on the trail for her. She’s a military veteran. She’s midwestern. She’s telegenic. And of course she’s a woman, the first to win statewide office in Iowa’s history. Was anyone else even considered to give this speech? The only other senator whose name was mentioned, I’ll bet, was Cory Gardner’s, another telegenic freshman from an important 2016 state. But Gardner can’t signal that the party is welcoming to women like Ernst can. In fact, after tapping five men in a row to reply to Obama (Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell(!), Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, and Marco Rubio), the GOP finally decided last year to use this platform to counter Democratic “war on women” messaging choosing a woman in Cathy McMorris-Rodgers. This year it’s Ernst. Next year I’ll be shocked if it isn’t Mia Love.

Incidentally, via Dan McLaughlin, it looks like His Majesty might step on the GOP’s moment in the spotlight by doing another media availability shortly after finishing his speech:

Hopefully Obama will have the courtesy to wait for Ernst to finish. Hopefully the inevitable alternative “tea-party rebuttal” will wait too. Two years ago, that was delivered by Rand Paul. Last year it was Mike Lee. Gotta be Cruz’s turn this time, no? It’d be hard for a soon-to-be presidential candidate to pass up the free megaphone.

Obama’s going to strike a “defiant” tone in his speech, according to Reuters, which is true to the spirit of his presidency. Having insisted that midterm voters judge Democratic incumbents based on the success or failure of his own policies and then watched those Democrats be destroyed from coast to coast, the only thing left to do is … double down on those policies, I guess. At least he’s gotten smarter lately in choosing what sort of policy candy to dangle in front of the electorate. New from YouGov:

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It’s not often that you find GOP support for a splashy Obama initiative north of 40 percent, but any combination of “education” and “free” will get even many Republicans to pay attention. Hopefully Mitt Romney, our 2016, will incorporate that reality into his next disquisition about “the 47 percent.”