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U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst hugs a constituent at an event in Jefferson in 2015. Ernst said she is hitting the pause button on hugging in the current climate in which allegations of unwanted and inappropriate touching regularly arise with public figures. Ernst said she doesn’t want a warm, friendly embrace to be misinterpreted, meaning handshakes and simple “hellos” are safer for someone with a national profile and reputation to protect.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst hugs a constituent at an event in Jefferson in 2015. Ernst said she is hitting the pause button on hugging in the current climate in which allegations of unwanted and inappropriate touching regularly arise with public figures. Ernst said she doesn’t want a warm, friendly embrace to be misinterpreted, meaning handshakes and simple “hellos” are safer for someone with a national profile and reputation to protect.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, an old-school rural populist with a folksy approach to retail politics, says she’s suspended the practice of giving hugs — gestures that have been primary features of her small-town way of greeting constituents and others in professional settings — for fear the embraces will be misinterpreted in the #MeToo era, the modern climate of evolving protocol on personal interaction.

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