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Can Carly Fiorina claim conservatism? (Part one of two)

Written By | Sep 26, 2015

HOUSTON, Sept. 26, 2015 – Carly Fiorina seems to enjoying quite a large bounce in the polls. She has presented herself as an uncompromising, principled conservative and Washington outsider to great success.

Unfortunately, those claims are flatly untrue; Fiorina is just as much of an establishment hack as Bush, Christie and Kasich — which should explain the left-wing media’s recent love-fest for her.

The facts completely contradict Fiorina’s clams that she is a life-long conservative.  

Fiorina’s career path alone is enough to expose her as a “campaign conservative,” as Sen. Ted Cruz likes to say. 

  1. She ran as a RINO in her bid for Senate in California in 2010 (more on this to come).
  2. She was such an adamant supporter of big-government progressive Sen. John McCain for the presidency in 2008 that, at the very beginning of the presidential cycle in 2006, she joined his campaign as a spokeswoman.
  3. She ran a very successful company, Hewlett Packard, into the ground during her brief tenure as CEO (1999-2005), firing more than 30,000 people while the stock price was cut in half resulting in her own very messy and public firing — but not before she made off with a cool $45 million severance package.
  4. She was the vice chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the establishment leadership in the Senate, which is designed to do one thing, protect incumbents from grassroots challengers, from 2011 to 02013.

In 2010, Erick Erickson, the creator of the popular conservative blog RedState, gave the following reasoning why he chose to endorse Chuck Devore over Fiorina for the 2010 Republican nomination for Senate in California. That statement very succinctly sums up Fiorina’s liberal record up to that point in time:

Carly’s conservative record was thin to nonexistent, and there were many troubling signs that she held liberal views. From her praise of Jesse Jackson, to her playing the race and gender cards against DeVore, to her support for the Wall Street bailouts, to her qualified support for the Obama stimulus, to her past support for taxation of sales on the Internet, to her waffling on immigration, to her support for Sonia Sotomayor, to her Master’s thesis advocating greater federal control of local education, to her past support for weakening California’s Proposition 13, to her statement to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that Roe v. Wade is “a decided issue,” Carly Fiorina’s oft-repeated claim to be a “lifelong conservative” was only plausible in the universe of NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) staffers who recruited her in the first place.

A more recent analysis of Fiorina’s liberal record comes from Conservative Review, which has ranked the candidates for the Republican nomination for president in 11 categories, providing each candidate with a rating of either good, bad or mixed.

Fiorina was rated as “bad” on seven of the topics and “mixed” on the remaining four topics.

Only Sen. Lindsay Graham has more ratings of “bad,” but he does have one rating of “good,” so arguably, according to Conservative Review, Fiorina is the least conservative of all of the remaining 11 candidates.

For reference, Cruz is rated as “good” in 10 categories and as “mixed” in only one.

One of the things that has endeared some voters to Ms. Fiorina is the hard-hitting drumbeat of criticism she consistently makes of presumptive Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton. However, it doesn’t take much digging to prove that Fiorina certainly hasn’t always felt that way.  

Despite what Fiorina has previously said, Jeffrey Lord of Conservative Review revealed that she has donated to Hillary Clinton and other progressive Democrats through a PAC she supported as recently as 2007. Additionally, during her failed tenure as CEO of Hewlett Packard, the Hewlett Packard PAC, which she was presumably in charge of, repeatedly donated to Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and more. At least Donald Trump admitted to donating to both parties, and had a valid reason for it. Ms. Fiorina, on the other hand, will have to explain why she criticized Trump for the same behavior she engaged in throughout her career.

Her previous support for Hillary doesn’t end with campaign contributions. On Sept. 23, 2015, a story by Tierney McAfee and Sandra Sobieraj Westfall titled  “Carly Fiorina Says She Feels ‘Empathy’ for Hillary Clinton – and Vows She’ll ‘Never Make a Personal Comment’ About Her” appeared on the website for People magazine. Fiorina told McAfee and Westfall, “I feel empathy with every woman who is working really hard and giving it all they’ve got – and Hillary is… She’s smart, she’s hardworking, she’s giving it all she’s got.”

That article cites a 2008 interview Fiorina gave to MORE magazine in which she stated that she’d been to Clinton’s office “to talk about various issues,” adding that the former secretary of state even asked Fiorina for her support early on in her first presidential campaign.

Though Fiorina declined for obvious reasons, she told MORE at the time, ‘I have enormous admiration for Hillary Clinton. And I felt empathy for her’ after she had an ‘incredibly grueling several weeks’ on the campaign trail. Fiorina tells People she stands by those comments and still feels that “enormous admiration.”

Keep in mind that the strategy of praising Obama as a capable, good-intentioned, family man who just happened to be misguided on policy was an absolute disaster for the Republican party when that failed strategy was implemented by both McCain and Romney.

Finally, a piece from August of this year by Washington Post reporter Ruth Marcus titled “Carly Fiorina’s Conversion from Hillary Clinton Fan to Fervent Critic” included the following interesting tidbit: “in the makeup room at ABC’s “This Week” with me, Fiorina said something that, at the time, was mildly interesting, but is now revelatory. It was May 2008, close to the end of the long primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and we were discussing the two Democratic contenders. At which point Fiorina, then a campaign surrogate for presumptive GOP nominee John McCain, offered some unprompted praise for Clinton: If Fiorina hadn’t been backing McCain, she told me, she would have been for Clinton.”

That may be an unsubstantiated claim by Ruth Marcus, but the Fiorina campaign chose not to address it. Can you imagine any true conservative allowing that to be printed without screaming from the rooftops about the Washington Post slandering his or her name and threatening to sue unless it was retracted??

The Post would only print something like that if the editors truly believed it to be true, and Carly’s campaign would respond with silence only if the editors were right.

Fiorina’s liberal record on critically important issues is very important to be aware of. Every single candidate will run in the primary as if he or she is “severely conservative,” as Romney once said, but few of them actually are. Conservatives must not be fooled by these “campaign conservatives,” and the only way to be certain is not to listen to what they say at the debates, but to look deeply into what they have done or said in the past.



James Richard

James Edwards is a tireless advocate for federalism and minimizing the impact the federal government has on all of our lives.