Ernst, who was choking, was saved by Paul's swift application of the Heimlich maneuver, as revealed in a tweet by the Iowa senator.
Ernst humorously linked the incident to the current political climate, tweeting, “Can’t help but choke on the woke policies Dems are forcing down our throats. Thanks, Dr. @RandPaul!” However, the cause of her distress was not political rhetoric but a piece of food from her home state, which she had brought to the lunch as part of a GOP tradition.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., described the menu, saying, “It was Iowa day, lots of big pork chops and beef sandwiches.” Thune, however, did not witness Paul's life-saving intervention.
The incident sparked gratitude among the Republicans present, who praised Paul's quick thinking. Paul, an eye doctor by profession, was lauded by his colleagues, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who said, “It’s a good thing he did. God bless Rand Paul. I never thought I’d say that.”
Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming also expressed her relief, saying, “It was great that Rand was there.” Following the incident, the two senators stood up and explained what had transpired, emphasizing the importance of knowing how to respond in such situations.
Lummis shared, “We talked about how you can get Heimlich training here, and other people talked about incidents that they’ve been involved in where someone required the Heimlich.”
Ernst, 53, was seen leaving the lunch after it concluded. The incident had not been reported at the time, so she was not asked about it. This is not the first time a senator has needed the Heimlich maneuver during a lunch with colleagues.
In 2018, Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., performed the Heimlich on Senator Claire McCaskill, breaking her rib in the process.