Attorney General Tom Miller and Republican challenger Brenna Bird squared off during their Friday joint-appearance on Iowa Press.

President Joe Biden’s controversial tenure became a recurring theme throughout the discussion. Bird blasted Miller’s ties to Biden, who Miller had endorsed in the 2020 caucuses. Bird also broke down her plans for the attorney general’s office to take the Biden administration to task on issues relating to Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulations, vaccine and mask mandates, and Title 42.

Bird also hit on a broader theme of Miller being an absentee attorney general. Miller first came under fire in April after documents released from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests indicated that he had no more than two appointments on his official schedule for nearly half of his work days between 2019 and 2021. FOIA requests also uncovered that Miller had just one appointment on his official calendar for a third of all working days in 2019 and 2020.

Bird noted how Miller – who has been in office for decades – has never met with Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson. Anderson has served as the head of the Iowa State Association of Counties and has been the Appanoose County Sheriff since 2001. She also highlighted how Miller has been absent on numerous lawsuits of key importance for Iowa, namely a multi-state lawsuit against the Obama administration’s WOTUS rules. Then-Governor Terry Branstad signed onto the legal challenge instead.

Republican officials were quick to amplify Bird’s message on Iowa Press.

“It’s a pretty refreshing tone compared to the snores that Iowans are used to hearing from their absent attorney general,” a Republican National Committee spokesman said in a press release. “Tom Miller has been in office longer than most Iowans have been alive, yet he hasn’t found the time to meet with law enforcement officials such as the sheriff of Appanoose county, who has been on the job for over two decades.”

With Bird outraising and outspending Miller – benefitting from a recent $1 million contribution from the Republican Attorneys General Association – the Iowa attorney general race is set to be one of the most competitive statewide races this year, and a key pickup opportunity for Republicans.