Americans across the country tuned in to the GOP Debate on CNN on Wednesday night. The debate, like the first one, produced several winners. One of those winners was Carly Fiorina. Obviously everyone has their own opinions, and liking or disliking a candidate is very subjective, but Carly gave several answers that had the crowd roaring and Americans cheering.
The beginning of the debate was reduced to personal attacks and left many viewers wondering whether or not policy was going to be discussed at all. One of the first questions Carly was asked had to do with Trump. It was expected that other candidates were going to be asked about Trump but it was the way that she answered that set her apart. While others were expending their energy attacking Trump, Fiorina simply deflected the question and led the conversation somewhere else, leaving the voters to decide where they stand on Trump. Rising above the tiring Trump tirade put Carly in the spotlight immediately.
One of Fiorina’s answers that garnered generous applause was about Planned Parenthood. When asked about the Planned Parenthood videos, Fiorina said, “I dare, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes. A fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain. This is about the character of our nation and if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us”. It was easy to see not only the passion in her voice but also anger and frustration. Her emotions combined with an articulate argument led to a well formed answer.
Carly’s appearance had recently been attacked in a shockingly rude comment from Trump. CNN pounced on the chance of a good fight and brought these comments to light by asking Fiorina how she felt about the issue. Calmly, Fiorina said, “I think women across the country heard what Mr. Trump said”. Ouch. The crowd cheered loudly and people realized that someone had finally taken Trump down a peg. A popularly retweeted graphic from IJ Review showed the twitter debate swiftly shifting from Trump to Fiorina. Realizing he had been beat, Trump tried to recover with, “I think she’s got a beautiful face and I think she’s a beautiful woman”. Trump’s response was met with little applause.
Marijuana made its way into the debate and Fiorina responded to her questions with a personal yet powerful response. On a suddenly silent stage, Fiorina said, “I very much hope I’m the only one on this stage that can say this and I know there are millions of Americans who will say the same thing. My husband Frank and I have had to bury a child to drug addiction”. Fiorina mixed humor into her answer by referencing Jeb Bush’s admittance to marijuana use in college and also responded to the political side of the question by saying, “I agree with Senator Paul, I agree with state’s rights…We do need criminal justice reform, we have the highest incarceration rates in the world. Two thirds of the people in our prisons are there for non-violent offenses, mostly drug related. It’s clearly not working”.
Fiorina’s private sector experience was called into question in a spat with fellow businessman Trump. Fiorina stated that she ran the company in a highly volatile environment for tech companies. Her firing of 10,000 employees also made its way into conversation. According to an IJ Review article, Fiorina, a very savvy and talented businesswoman, brought HP back from the depths of failure. HP is in existence today because, “Carly was willing to undertake controversial moves and ruffle feathers, including of HP people stuck in the past”. In response to the firing of 10,000 employees, the article reveals that after Carly had left, her successor Mark Herd laid off 15,000 employees and current CEO Meg Whitman has laid off 55,000 employees. In the same article, former HP chairman Bob Wayman says, “I believe HP is better off today as a result of the Board’s decision to hire Carly Fiorina. She is very smart, a very quick study, an incredible communicator. She’s a leader. She focuses on what needs to be done and drives it.” It’s hard to articulate such arguments in a thirty second time frame so her answer on private sector experience may have been somewhat jumbled.
Finally, in the “light-hearted” question phase of the debate, candidates were asked what woman they would put on the $10 bill. The other candidates had some fun with their answers, some said their wives and daughters, some said political figures like Clara Barton and Rosa Parks. Fiorina took the chance to further her women’s rights presence in the debate. In response to the question, Fiorina said, “We shouldn’t change the $10 dollar bill or the $20 dollar bill. I think, honestly, it’s a gesture. I don’t think it helps to change our history. What I would think is that we ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group. Women are the majority of this nation, we are half the potential of this nation and this nation will be better off when every woman has the opportunity to live the life she chooses.” Fiorina turned this question into something better and used it as a good way to cap off her debate.
The debate was an interesting three and half hours and will surely be talked about for the next couple of days. Fiorina’s performance not only landed her on the map of those uncertain of her, but she also took down her opponents while providing articulate responses. Bravo, Carly. You win this one.