Metaphors using farm animals are getting Iowa's U.S. Senate candidates national attention, and not all of it good.
Just one day after Joni Ernst won the Republican primary and secured her party's nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Tom Harkin, her Democratic challenger, Bruce Braley, launched a television ad that criticized an earlier TV ad by Ernst, in which she talks about her experience castrating hogs, saying she'll "cut pork" if voters send her to Washington.
The narrator in Braley's ad says that when Ernst "had the chance to do something in Iowa, we didn't hear a peep. In the state Senate, Ernst never sponsored a bill to cut pork, never wrote one measure to slash spending." Spliced between images of Ernst and her earlier ad was the was the image of a baby chick with peeps heard in the background.
The ad prompted allegations of sexism, garnering attention from many national news outlets, including The Washington Post and USA Today.
"Bruce Braley has shown time and time again just how tone-deaf, elitist and offensive he is," Brook Hougesen, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told USA Today.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee also told The Washington Post that Braley should be "embarrassed" by the ad. In a statement on Ernst's website, spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel said the ad "degrades and insults Iowa women by comparing Joni Ernst to a 'chick.'"
Tim Hagle, a political scientist at the University of Iowa, tweeted, "Imagine if a GOP candidate had used a 'chick' in an ad against a female opponent."
Braley's campaign hasn't specifically tried to refute the allegation of sexism, instead countering that the substance of the ad is valid.
"That we still haven't heard a peep from state Sen. Ernst's campaign on the substance of our ad shows just how clearly her record does not live up to the image she's portraying on TV. The facts matter, and the truth is, state Sen. Ernst talks a lot about cutting pork, but her actions are something else entirely," Braley campaign manager Sarah Benzing told USA Today.
However, allegations of sexism have not solely been aimed at Braley.
Last week, Ernst said she was "appalled" at comments posted earlier on the Facebook page belonging to her husband, Gail Ernst. Gail Ernst has since apologized for his comments calling former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "a hag" and Janet Napolitano, then the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a "traitorous skank." The comments were also removed from his Facebook page.
The posts, provided to The Des Moines Register by Democratic activists included one from March 2013 that read: "What do you do if you see your ex running around in your front yard screaming and bloody? Stay calm. Reload. And try again."
Lastly, Ernst's TV ad that prompted Braley's may have made some men uncomfortable when she tells Iowa voters that because of her experience castrating hogs, "I'll know how to cut pork in Washington." She ends the ad by saying: "Washington is full of big spenders, let's make 'em squeal."
VOTE: Sexism in Iowa's Senate race? You tell us.
While these ads and the actions of each Senate candidate may have some of their constituents crying foul, others may not see the harm. Regardless, it brings up a valid talking point and now is your chance to weigh in. Were these ads sexist or not? Are the ads leaving you concerned that these candidates are putting show above substance?