LOS ANGELES, December 23, 2015 — After nearly seven hours and 12 men, it was time for the only female Republican presidential candidate to have her say. Carly Fiorina was the last speaker to address the Republican Jewish Coalition 2015 Presidential Candidates Forum.
That Fiorina closed out the event was coincidental and not in any way connected to her gender; conspiracy theorists should give this one a pass. She was introduced to the crowd by RJC member Peter Forman.
Fiorina said that she can beat Hillary Clinton in a debate. She emphasized that what matters in this campaign is winning. She went directly after Hillary and President Obama on a variety of issues.
“There is no moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians. You cannot make peace with people who will not acknowledge your existence.”
She excoriated Hillary Clinton for her callous comment during Benghazi testimony, “What difference at this point does it make?” As weary as the crowd was from seven hours of speeches, they were thrilled that Fiorina hit hard on Benghazi.
Fiorina noted that Obama abandoned Iraq, and that the power vacuum there created ISIS. She called ISIS the biggest threat to global security, “followed closely by Iran,” lambasting Hillary for identifying the biggest threat as climate change. While the crowd liked that line, RJC attendees are far more likely than the general public to list Iran as the biggest threat, not ISIS.
She said that during her trips to Israel, she saw “courage” and “optimism.”
Fiorina criticized the nation-building efforts of George W. Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq without mentioning him by name. This was a source of consternation for some in the RJC, since the 43rd president is far more liked in this group than in other groups.
Fiorina called Russia and Iran medium-term threats and China a long-term threat. Despite claiming a warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in previous speeches, she differs from him when he considers Iran a near-term threat. This is a significant disagreement, although Fiorina holds Bibi in high regard and would take his words seriously.
She said she will make two phone calls on her first day in office: She will call Bibi in Israel; she will then call the Supreme Leader in Iran. If Iran does not stop its weapons program, she will stop the flow of money to Iran.
Fiorina will declare that “The United States is back in the leadership business.” She has operated in the real world for decades and has real world experience that cannot be found in a briefing room.
Asked about a Middle East peace deal, Fiorina said it depends on the Palestinians. They have to become so war weary that they seriously consider peace. Otherwise peace is not possible.
The discussion then turned to technology, the field where Fiorina spent most of her career.
Asked about how to prevent cyberattacks, she declared cyberattacks acts of war and commercial espionage. She would set up a centralized cybercommand. She would allow public-private sector coordination.
“Technology has moved on light years since the Patriot Act was passed.”
She cited the importance of encryption technology. The most important thing is that America must retaliate when cyberattacked. Our infrastructure is very vulnerable to cyberattacks, and we must work with the private sector to prevent these attacks.
“Edward Snowden is without a doubt a traitor, and should be tried for treason.”
Asked about the mythical GOP war on women, Fiorina said we need a “fearless fighter” to take on Hillary.
Hillary cannot run on her record as Secretary of State because, “She got every single foreign policy challenge wrong.”
One other action she would take to protect the homeland is to rebuild the Sixth Fleet. There would be no more gimmick red reset buttons with Russia.
Because Fiorina is not as well-known a commodity to the RJC community as some of the other candidates, this first impression was crucial. On Israel and foreign policy, her remarks were generally well-received. She showed a clear grasp of why technology relates to foreign policy, and connected the dots properly. For those who knew very little about her on other issues, that remained the case.