DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst reaffirmed to WHO 13 that she intends to stay publicly neutral in the 2024 GOP caucuses but she shared that one issue will be most important to her as she makes her choice in private.

“National security, for me, absolutely, national security,” Ernst said.

Ernst spent nearly a quarter century in the National Guard and deployed overseas to Kuwait during the Iraq War.

“I have an interesting background in that I’ve worn the boots. I also serve on the Armed Services Committee. I understand the pressures that our adversaries are putting on freedom-loving countries all around the globe. Are we going to isolate ourselves and say, ‘nobody’s going to hurt us as long as we don’t engage.’ I know that to be not true. I want to look at people and understand what is your foreign policy? Are we going to strengthen our military? Or are we going to allow it to fall to pre-World War II levels? And we’ll have outdated equipment and soldiers that aren’t fit to serve. Those are issues that I get concerned about. How are we going to engage and project ourselves around the world?”

“Debt and spending would be that next issue as well. Those go hand in hand,” Ernst said of her other priorities that she wants to see in a presidential candidate.