GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst could become not only the first female senator from Iowa, but also the first female combat veteran elected to Senate.

Ernst - who appears to be neck-and-neck with Rep. Bruce Braley in the key race - joined Bill Hemmer this morning on "America's Newsroom" and said, "People are excited. They definitely want to see a different direction in the United States, and I am going to provide them with that direction."

She said her message of creating better opportunities is resonating across the state, while the president and Braley's policies are not connecting with voters.

GOP Candidate Ernst on Key Iowa Race: Momentum, Issues on Our Side

Ernst said that her recent comment that many in the Democratic Party believe you can't be a real woman if you're conservative wasn't just directed at retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, but also Hillary Clinton.

Ernst said regardless of policies or ideologies, we should celebrate women seeking election and stepping into leadership positions, since we all share universal concerns: jobs, the economy, federal overspending, national defense.

Ernst also spoke out against "the phony war on women."

"First, I am a woman," she said. "And second, I have been to war, and this is not a war. Anytime Democrats use that word, they should be doing it in honor of our servicemen and women."

She said the term "war on women" doesn't resonate anymore, and women need to stand up, be individuals and take leadership roles.

"Don't be afraid" is a better message, she suggested.

Watch more above.

Ernst on Harkin: 'I'm Offended for Every Woman Who Runs for Office'