Fio­r­ina looms as Clin­ton’s worst night­mare

Out­shines Repub­li­can ri­vals in de­bate

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Carly Fio­r­ina, the only con­sen­sus win­ner out of this week’s GOP pres­i­den­tial de­bate, went a long way Wed­nes­day to­ward ce­ment­ing her claim as Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton’s worst night­mare, as she looked to so­lid­ify her sta­tus as a top con­tender for the party’s nom­i­na­tion and con­vince donors and pri­mary vot­ers to give her a se­ri­ous look.

Ms. Fio­r­ina scored a slew of head­lines for shut­ting down Don­ald Trump in the sec­ond prime­time Repub­li­can de­bate, but GOP an­a­lysts and sup­port­ers said the sting­ing blows she di­rected at Mrs. Clin­ton could prove to be more valu­able to her chances of be­ing on the party’s ticket come the 2016 elec­tion.

“Carly Fio­r­ina is the one Repub­li­can Hil­lary Clin­ton hopes she never has to face be­cause Carly Fio­r­ina can take on Hil­lary Clin­ton in ways that the men in gray suits and red ties can’t,” said Char­lie Gerow, a Penn­syl­va­ni­abased GOP strate­gist who is ad­vis­ing Ms. Fio­r­ina.

Be­fore the de­bate, Ms. Fio­r­ina, 61, had el­bowed her way into the mid­dle of the pack of 16 can­di­dates, and she is ex­pected to get another bounce af­ter out­shin­ing most of her ri­vals in a three-hour af­fair at the Ron­ald Rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary in Simi Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, hosted by CNN, which drew nearly 23 mil­lion view­ers.

From the out­set of her cam­paign, Ms. Fio­r­ina has trained her fire on Mrs. Clin­ton, and she came pre­pared to do more of the same in the sec­ond de­bate, de­liv­er­ing another sting­ing cri­tique of the for­mer first lady.

“Mrs. Clin­ton has to de­fend her track record,” Ms. Fio­r­ina said. “Her track record of ly­ing about Beng­hazi, of ly­ing about her emails, about ly­ing about her servers. She does not have a track record of ac­com­plish­ment.”

“Like Mrs. Clin­ton, I too have trav­eled hun­dreds of thou­sands of miles around the globe. But un­like Mrs. Clin­ton, I know fly­ing is an ac­tiv­ity, not an ac­com­plish­ment,” she said. “If you want to stump a Demo­crat, ask them to name an ac­com­plish­ment of Mrs. Clin­ton’s.”

As she rises, Ms. Fio­r­ina is ex­pected to face more scru­tiny over the record she com­piled be­tween 1999 and 2005 as CEO of Hewlet­tPackard, which some, in­clud­ing Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Son­nen­feld, a se­nior as­so­ciate dean at the Yale School of Man­age­ment, have cast in a neg­a­tive light.

“The com­pany is a dis­as­ter and con­tin­ues to be a dis­as­ter. They still haven’t re­cov­ered,” Mr. Trump said dur­ing the de­bate.

The Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee blasted out an email Thurs­day say­ing that thou­sands of HP work­ers lost their jobs on Ms. Fio­r­ina’s watch, while she walked away with $40 mil­lion in cash, stock op­tions and pen­sions. They also high­lighted in­de­pen­dent fact check­ers that found Ms. Fio­r­ina had been mis­lead­ing about her busi­ness record and “cherry-picked” de­tails that cast her time in a pos­i­tive light.

“Noth­ing Carly Fio­r­ina will say can ex­cuse the hor­ri­ble choices she made at HP or the false­hoods she ped­dled at last night’s de­bate. This is go­ing to be one very awk­ward job in­ter­view for her,” said Holly Shul­man, a DNC spokesper­son.

That same line of at­tack was suc­cess­fully used against Ms. Fio­r­ina in her failed 2010 bid to un­seat Sen. Bar­bara Boxer, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat.

She also could come un­der fire from con­ser­va­tives on immigration. She has said she is open to grant­ing a path­way to le­gal sta­tus for adult illegal im­mi­grants and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for the chil­dren of illegal im­mi­grants.

But Ned Ryun, a se­nior po­lit­i­cal ad­viser to the Carly for Amer­ica su­per PAC, said the de­bate Wed­nes­day gave the au­di­ence the chance to rec­og­nize that Ms. Fio­r­ina has the “it” fac­tor and grasp of the pol­icy is­sues, as well as the skills to think quickly on her feet and clearly com­mu­ni­cate her mes­sage to vot­ers.

“She has the abil­ity to take a punch and hit back even harder,” Mr. Ryun said. “I think Carly would evis­cer­ate Hil­lary in any de­bate, in any set­ting, any­where.

“Af­ter last night’s de­bate, I think Hil­lary Clin­ton is go­ing to be look­ing in her closet ev­ery night, mak­ing sure that Carly is not lurk­ing in the shad­ows,” he said.

Dave Car­ney, a New Hamp­shire-based GOP strate­gist, said Ms. Fio­r­ina has “ab­so­lutely” launched the most ef­fec­tive at­tacks against Mrs. Clin­ton, who is en­gulfed in an on­go­ing na­tional se­cu­rity-tinged email scan­dal that is tak­ing some of the steam out of her cam­paign.

“From Day One she has been the one per­son who has been talk­ing about Clin­ton, while ev­ery­one else has been talk­ing about Obama,” Mr. Car­ney said, adding that Ms. Fio­r­ina can help dif­fuse the “war on women” charges that Democrats will in­evitably turn to.

“Hil­lary can’t play the vic­tim card against her, and the only way that Hil­lary has a shot of win­ning is that if she is seen as a vic­tim and women are vic­tims,” Mr. Car­ney said.

An IJ.com and Google Con­sumer Sur­veys na­tion­wide post­de­bate poll found that 30 per­cent of de­bate view­ers said Ms. Fio­r­ina was the win­ner, fol­lowed by 23 per­cent for Mr. Trump and about 12 per­cent for Ben Car­son.

The sur­vey showed that Ms. Fio­r­ina steam­rolled her ri­vals among women, but that Mr. Trump ran neck and neck with her among men, fu­el­ing some spec­u­la­tion about whether she might have to do more to reach out to men.

It be­came ap­par­ent early in the de­bate Wed­nes­day that Ms. Fio­r­ina came poised to avoid a frontal at­tack on Mr. Trump when she re­fused to take the bait when mod­er­a­tor Jake Trap­per asked about whether she trusted the New York bil­lion­aire with his fin­ger on the nu­clear codes.

She in­stead said that all of the can­di­dates’ abil­i­ties with be “re­vealed over time and un­der pres­sure.”

But she pounced when asked to re­spond to re­marks Mr. Trump made in a Rolling Stone in­ter­view, where, re­fer­ring to her, he said, “Look at that face! Would any­one vote for that?”

“I think women all over this coun­try heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Ms. Fio­r­ina said, spark­ing a rau­cous ap­plause from the crowd.

Ms. Fio­r­ina said that strip­ping fed­eral fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood is “about the char­ac­ter of our na­tion” and shared the story of how “my hus­band Frank and I buried a child to drug ad­dic­tion.” She also vowed to cut off com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and re­build the mis­sile de­fense sys­tem in Poland.

Democrats com­pli­mented Ms. Fio­r­ina for her per­for­mance, though they warned that the po­lit­i­cal novice would likely be out­matched in a one-on-one matchup with Mrs. Clin­ton, who has done more for women’s is­sues.

“Com­pared to the sopho­moric dis­play of many of her Repub­li­can com­peti­tors, Fio­r­ina came off like a pro — com­posed, sub­stan­tive, un­flap­pable,” said Christy Set­zer, a Demo­cratic strate­gist.

“In par­tic­u­lar, her re­sponses to Trump’s at­tacks on her face ‘per­sona’ prob­a­bly had women across both par­ties cheer­ing her on,” Ms. Set­zer said. “But tone isn’t the be-all and end-all. Women are un­likely to over­look Fio­r­ina’s op­po­si­tion to paid parental leave or her dis­as­trous per­for­mance at HP in the fi­nal cal­cu­la­tions.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Carly Fio­r­ina scored a slew of head­lines for shut­ting down Don­ald Trump in the sec­ond prime-time Repub­li­can de­bate, but GOP an­a­lysts and sup­port­ers said the sting­ing blows she di­rected at Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton could prove to be more valu­able to her chances of be­ing on the party’s ticket come the 2016 elec­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.