Carly Fiorina had a good September: she raised a significant amount of money after her strong performance at the second Republican presidential debate, she was praised by many GOP’ers for being a female in the fight against Planned Parenthood, and she attracted big crowds in Iowa and New Hampshire throughout the month. But now that the tidal wave favoring Fiorina has crested, what remains is the same old, same old Republican presidential candidate: a political outsider, steadfast on criticizing bureaucrats and bragging about her successful executive image (which many news articles and political operatives have since called into question).
Fiorina is wrapping up another multi-day tour of central and eastern Iowa, making various stops at county GOP fundraisers, organizing house parties, town hall meetings, and even a high school football game. She’s got a larger field team organizing for her now, complete with supporters to pass out stickers, push out caucus cards, hang up signs, and talk up the candidate before she arrives. Also noteworthy of Fiorina’s events this week is the amount of production behind them, especially at the house party in Pleasant Hill on Friday. Playing on the mounted TV in the living room was “Citizen Carly,” her super PAC’s documentary on the former Hewlett-Packard CEO. Her state campaign manager brought in a sound system so Fiorina’s soft voice could carry throughout the packed kitchen and living room areas. Videographers circled the rooms before, during, and after Fiorina spoke, giving a similar feel to a highly-produced Chris Christie or Ted Cruz event.
All those aspects seem to be the new, flashy platform of Carly Fiorina’s campaign, hoping to make her out as a sustainable contender through the primary. Fiorina’s messages, however, remain the same as the first day she campaigned in Iowa after announcing her bid for the White House. She still opens with her negative perspective of Washington D.C., and how a majority of Americans share that same view.
“82 percent of the American people now think that he have a professional political class,” said Fiorina in Windsor Heights. She went on to criticize politicians for failing to address some of the nation’s largest problems in the past several decades. “We’ve been talking about an insecure border for 25 years, we’ve been talking about a VA that doesn’t serve and care for our veterans…we’ve been talking about tax reform for decades.”
Fiorina also was careful to weave in her memorized potential bit into her opening remarks in Pleasant Hill, an often uplifting part of her typical stump speech.
“Our founders built a nation on this idea that every individual life has value, that we judge individuals as individuals, not as members of groups,” said Fiorina. “And our founders said that everybody has the right to fulfill their potential, to use their God-given gifts…And the right to do that comes from God not the government.”
Of course, when asked, Florin provides well-planned answers to these dilemmas, as she has been in the last five months. But the crowds in Windsor Heights and Pleasant Hill wanted to hear her take on more controversial topical issues, such as Planned Parenthood and the Syrian refugee crisis. On these issues, Fiorina actually was quite fired up.
“Planned Parenthood has never denied that they are engaging in late term abortion for the purpose of harvesting body parts because they cannot deny it. It it true,” said Fiorina. “We cannot be a nation that condones this…and we all ought to be quite worried about how mainstream media just bought Planned Parenthood’s fiction.”
A local pastor asked Fiorina at the Pleasant Hill party how she plans to address Secretary Kerry’s call to take in thousands of Syrian refugees in the coming months, even getting emotional when sharing her anger in America not doing enough to help persecuted Christians. Fiorina’s poignant answer lead the crowd to erupt in applause.
“Look, our heart breaks when we see these pictures, but realistically, most of these refugees are young, able-bodied men and we do not know who they are,” said Fiorina. “And John Kerry will be long gone when the next president is dealing with that. So the first thing I would do is immediately open that decision for review. Because it’s one thing to provide amnesty when someone is truly being politically or religiously persecuted – it’s another thing to allow tens of thousands of able-bodied men into this country because they’re looking for work. We do not have a moral obligation to do that….It’s amazing to me that the Syrian refugee crisis finally moved this administration to action, when Christians are being persecuted, driven from their homes, annihilated, crucified, burned…and this administration has not said a word.”
Fiorina’s articulate and moving answers are what has helped her become a magnet choice for many voters. Many at the Pleasant Hill event chatted enthusiastically while Fiorina posed for pictures, saying, “She’s awesome! I loved her! I’m like, wow!” and “I was so excited to finally see her in person. She’s fantastic. A very good speaker.”
And it’s true-Carly Fiorina is a good speaker. She was back in early May on the first days on the Iowa caucus campaign trail, and she remains strong in that area today. Just like fellow contenders Ted Cruz and Ben Carson and John Kasich. But that doesn’t put her head and shoulders above the competition, as she can be frequently left out from many Iowans’ top-five lists for GOP presidential nominees. It’s evident that her campaign team, and Fiorina herself, is still riding the wave of enthusiasm and interest from the latest Republican debate, but her camp will have to employ a new strategy this fall and early winter in order to remain relevant in voters’ minds.
by Sarah Beckman