Ernst, the Republican from Iowa, has only been on the job for two weeks. In addition to generating buzz with her unusual fashion choice on Tuesday, she also used a footwear anecdote in her address.
“You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry,” Ernst said. “But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.”
Not surprisingly, that remark sparked a barrage of comments on twitter. “Breaking: Nike announces new Air Ernst,” tweeted Howard Camerik, a lawyer and self-described comic.
Before Ernst took the spotlight, Obama delivered his second-to-last State of the Union address. Washington, D.C. footwear lobbyists applauded the president’s push for the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The move would benefit American consumers — and the footwear industry — by providing nearly half a billion dollars in duty savings.
“I was impressed he spoke so passionately about trade and is working to convince the public of its benefits and the Congress of the need to pass the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – the same authority given to every president since President Nixon,” said Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.
The American Apparel and Footwear Association tweeted: “Four million U.S. clothing & shoe workers’ jobs depend on trade. Thanks POTUS for asking for Trade Promotion Authority in #SOTU.”
Obama also focused on the middle class during his speech and unveiled an ambitious agenda, including a tax hike on the nation’s wealthiest, new child care tax breaks, free community college programs and more required sick leave for everyone.
He also talked about the significant declines in gas prices, which has translated into relief for many cash-strapped consumers, who now have more to spend.
“The shadow of crisis has passed,” Obama said, “and the State of the Union is strong.”
Check back tomorrow for more analysis on the pressing issues outlined tonight.
In the meantime, Ernst’s footwear is a bold choice, to say the least. What do you think of her shoes and her speech?