Joni Ernst 'Very Offended' By Tom Harkin's Taylor Swift Comparison

Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst is pushing back on comments from outgoing Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who said that Iowans shouldn't vote for Ernst just because she's "really attractive" and "sounds nice."

“In this Senate race, I've been watching some of these ads, and there's sort of this sense that, 'Well, I hear so much about Joni Ernst. She's really attractive, and she sounds nice.'" Harkin said at a Democratic barbecue last week, according to a video published by BuzzFeed on Sunday. “Well I got to thinking about that. I don't care if she's as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like Michele Bachmann, she's wrong for the state of Iowa."

Ernst, who is running to replace Harkin, said Monday the senator's remarks would be different if she were a man.

"I was very offended that Senator Harkin would say that. I think it's unfortunate that he and many of their party believe that you can't be a real woman if you're conservative and you're female," she told Fox News. "Again, I am greatly offended about that."

She continued, "If my name had been John Ernst attached to my resume, Senator Harkin would not have said those things."

On Saturday, a Des Moines Register poll showed Ernst with a seven point lead over Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley in the race for Harkin's seat, which could be critical to a Republican takeover of the Senate. If elected, Ernst would be the state's first female senator.

HuffPost Pollster's model, which tracks publicly available opinion polls, shows Ernst leading Braley:

UPDATE: 5:25 p.m. EST -- Harkin later apologized for his remarks.

"I shouldn't have said those things, I know that. I regret anytime someone feels offended by what I have said," he said. "But I am only human and I can make mistakes sometimes in how I say something. In fact, I have complimented her on running a very good campaign."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R)
Despite governing a deep red state, Brownback is vulnerable due to the steep income tax cuts he signed off on that have catalyzed dire revenue shortfalls. State House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) has been attacking Brownback over the shortfall's impact on education spending, and the approach seems to be working, as he leads in the polls.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R)
Democrats are using LePage's outspoken comments to call him an embarrassment and a detriment to the state's reputation. Republicans are defending LePage by calling him "blunt, honest, one-of-a-kind" and "unique, just like Maine." However, his Democratic challenger, Rep. Mike Michaud, may be hampered by the presence of independent Eliot Cutler on the ballot. The Democrat would become the first openly gay person ever elected governor if he wins on Nov. 4.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D)
Pat Quinn, left, and Bruce Rauner (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
In Illinois, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner (R) is narrowly leading Quinn in the polls, as the Democratic governor suffers from low approval ratings. Rauner has emphasized his relatively moderate stances on abortion rights and marriage equality, while Democrats have seized on his comment that he's probably a member of the "0.01 percent" and his membership in a private wine club to characterize him as out of touch.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R)
Tom Corbett, left, and Tom Wolf (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Corbett is seriously lagging in the polls behind businessman Tom Wolf (D), who has been able to self-fund his campaign. Corbett's cuts to education spending and handling of the Penn State investigation into child sexual abuse when he served as attorney general have meant months of negative publicity. Wolf, on the other hand, has stayed up on the airwaves with sunny spots about his family business.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)
John Hickenlooper, left, and Bob Beauprez (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Hickenlooper has been forced to defend his decision to indefinitely block the execution of Nathan Dunlap, the state's longest-serving death row inmate. Former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.) has focused on the capital punishment issue, as well as gun control restrictions recently passed in the state, anti-fracking initiatives and proposed tax increases, to make the case that Hickenlooper's policies aren't as business-friendly as his own. While the governor has refused to air negative television ads, his Democratic allies have swooped in to protect him.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R)
Walker has the edge against businesswoman Mary Burke (D) in the polls, but Democratic motivation to boot him out of office remains high. The race has largely hinged on economic issues. Chaos over a new voter identification requirement may affect this race's outcome.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R)
Snyder has been leading former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-Mich.) in the polls, but labor and environmental groups think they can narrow the gap before Election Day. The governor has been running on his management of the state's economy and has vetoed bills from the state legislature on gun rights, abortion restrictions and voter identification. Schauer drew attention to Snyder's opposition to marriage equality when he chose Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown as his running mate. Brown had issued same-sex marriage licenses in opposition to Snyder's administration. Democrats have cast Snyder as out of touch, using his comments comparing disastrous flooding to a leak at his vacation home as ammunition.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R)
The close race between Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, who was once a Republican but is now running as a Democrat, may be the most expensive governor's race in the country. Scott has characterized Crist as a flip-flopper and emphasized his own actions to stimulate job growth, while Crist has hammered away at Scott's refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, cuts to education spending and opposition to raising the minimum wage.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D)
This year's race is a rematch between Malloy and businessman Tom Foley (R), who narrowly lost to the governor in 2010. Malloy's poll numbers are hurting over economic issues, as voters express dissatisfaction with how he has handled the state budget and taxes. The governor has been highlighting his response to the 2012 mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, saying it demonstrates his responsiveness as a leader. In contrast, Foley has avoided giving specifics when asked which gun control measures passed by the state legislature he opposes.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R)
Deal appears vulnerable because state Sen. Jason Carter (D), former President Jimmy Carter's grandson, has capitalized on multiple ethics investigations to characterize Deal as a politician who has abused the powers of public office. The governor holds a small lead in the polls and has consistently tied Carter to national Democrats, though Carter has rejected that comparison.