By Caroline Thompson, Contributor
Eleven presidential candidates gathered for the second Republican debate for the 2016 election Wed., Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The debate lasted just under three hours. The only newcomer at this main GOP debate was Carly Fiorina, a political outsider with an extensive business background. However, this presumed weakness only seemed to strengthen her candidacy and demanded that she be taken as seriously as Trump, Bush, Carson and Rubio, the leading GOP candidates.
Fiorina came in strong, not backing down from taking jabs at candidates and going overtime when answering questions in order to get her point across, earning applause from the audience each time. When asked about her foreign policy stance, she not only responded with the most straightforward and clear plan of the group, but also came off as someone who knew how to accomplish that plan.
She utilized techniques of a seasoned politician when engaging with other candidates such as flipping accusations of bankruptcy and failed business ventures back onto Trump.
One of the most undeniably satisfying moments of the three-hour long debate was Fiorina’s shut down of Donald Trump when asked about his sexist comments he made regarding her face. She replied, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” generating a massive round of applause from the audience. The applause was so loud Trump’s attempt at brushing her comment off by saying he thinks “she has a lovely face” could hardly be heard. This weak gesture went unacknowledged by Fiorina.
However, like so many other presidential candidates, the backhand of Fiorina’s success in this debate was due in part to the dishonesty whenever she touched on her time as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard or the Planned Parenthood videos.
Republicans like to hear about successful, conservative business leaders. Fiorina presented herself as such when she claimed that despite the difficult times at HP, she “doubled the size of the company, quadrupled its topline growth rate and cash flow, and tripled the rate of innovation.” These repeated statements reek of cherry-picked facts and misrepresented information. As CEO of HP, Fiorina doubled the size of the company through a merger with Compaq, and her claims about the growth rate comes from inconsistent quarterly figures and ignoring currency exchange rate gains. In reality, revenue growth went from 7% to 3% when she left – not 2% to 9%.
Her other inaccurate statement came when she boldly challenged, somewhat graphically, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to watch the Planned Parenthood videos of a fully formed fetus, “its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says they have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” This exact video does not actually exist. However, an edited one with a voiceover of a technician discussing her experience doing exactly what Fiorina described does.
In all, despite those falsehoods, Fiorina succeeded in cementing herself and her name in the 2016 race as someone who is growing stronger and will command recognition. She generated immense praise during and after the debate, and was crowned the breakout star according to many analysts. As the only candidate coming from the bottom tier of the GOP presidential candidates, she proved that she was more than competent and ready to compete for office.