Fight like a girl:
From the beginning of her campaign for president, Carly Fiorina has had to deal with lowered expectations, encapsulated in a frequent question: Aren’t you just running for vice president? “People ask that because I’m a woman and I’m not a politician,” she told me earlier this year. “I’m running to be president.”
Fiorina put questions about her claim to run for the top job to rest early and often in Wednesday’s debate with a dynamite, substantive performance. Along the way, she was able to effectively shut up GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and come away the clear winner in the field of 11.
A testy exchange near the end of the first hour of debate between Trump and Florida governor Jeb Bush gave Fiorina her first big opening. The two candidates were arguing about whether or not Bush had misspoken when he said he wanted to spend less federal money on “women’s health.” Bush claimed he was misunderstood and was talking about funding Planned Parenthood, but Trump argued that Americans knew what he was saying and would punish Bush in the general election for it.
The next question immediately went to Fiorina, asking her to address a recent Rolling Stone interview in which Trump mocked Fiorina’s appearance. “Look at that face,” Trump had said in the interview. “Would anyone vote for that?” Trump, debate moderator Jake Tapper noted, later said the comment was about Fiorina’s persona.
When asked to respond, Fiorina was ready. “It’s interesting to me. Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said,” she said. “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”
Trump, for the first time ever in his public life, looked dumbfounded. His response was lame and, more critically, a retreat: “She’s got a beautiful face, and she’s a beautiful person,” he said.
It was a high point in a night of high points for the former Hewlett-Packard executive. Fiorina made a splash nearly every time she spoke, from an impassioned argument for defunding Planned Parenthood to a tough-talking prescription for how to address the Iran deal. After a tense back-and-forth over marijuana decriminalization between Rand Paul and Chris Christie, Fiorina broke in with an emotional appeal against legalization and for criminal-justice reform by referencing her daughter who died from drug abuse. She also got some mileage going after the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. “Mrs. Clinton is going to have to defend her track record. Her track record of lying about Benghazi, of lying about her emails, of lying about her servers,” Fiorina said.
This is how I know that Carly Fiorina was the big winner last night: Democrats and the media are “fact checking” everything she said.
Not only that, but left-wing bloggers are finally talking about the Planned Parenthood videos.
Here’s Amanda Marcotte:
As with the August Fox News debate, Wednesday night’s CNN Republican debate at one point devolved into a contest to see which candidate hates Planned Parenthood the mostest. The crime: the completely disproved claim that the women’s health care provider is in the business of selling fetal body parts. Carly Fiorina, the only woman on the stage, managed to posture the hardest—while other candidates claimed they were into defunding Planned Parenthood before it was cool, Fiorina went straight for the gross-out.
“I’d like to link these two issues, both of which are incredibly important, Iran and Planned Parenthood,” she began. “One has something to do with the defense of the security of this nation. The other has to do with the defense of the character of this nation.”
The who with the what now? “Anyone who has watched this videotape,” Fiorina said, presumably of one of the misleadingly edited videos created by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), “I dare, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes. Watch 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 this nation!”
“And if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us,” she ended, to great applause.
Hey, I said they were talking about them, I didn’t say they were finally telling the truth.