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The Social Issues Make A Comeback & Carly Stands Out

CHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie


Moderator Jake Tapper occasionally nearly lost control of last night’s CNN Republican presidential candidate debate, but the candidates talking to and at each other made for much better TV than the Fox debate, and the beneficiaries were Republican primary voters who got to hear the candidates more and their media inquisitors a lot less.

And to the surprise of many conservatives the social issues made a comeback – and not as a phony liberal talking point about Republicans and their nonexistent “war on women.”

In one of the most dramatic moments of the debate, Carly Fiorina stole the initiative on the social conservative agenda from Governor Mike Huckabee and Senator Ted Cruz and challenged Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to watch the now infamous undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s human baby body parts trafficking business.

As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, 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 our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.

The most important part of her remarks was unspoken – but clear – she challenged the Capitol Hill Republican establishment to actually stand for conservative principles and defund this monstrous organization.

This reinforced Fiorina’s outsider street cred, because it was just as much an attack on unpopular establishment Republicans Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, as it was on Clinton and Obama.

And it dramatically separated Fiorina from Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Scott Walker, who all tried to tout their commitment to defunding Planned Parenthood without calling on McConnell and Boehner to actually fight to do so.

As I noted in my book TAKEOVER, in the modern era Republicans never win the White House without making the social issues part of their campaign. As my friend Jeff Bell put it in his book The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism,“When social issues came into the mix—I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections.”

Fiorina’s embrace of the social issues showed she understands how the Reagan coalition worked and that she is aiming for support from all three legs of it; economic conservatives, national defense conservatives AND social conservatives. Moreover, it was a direct rejection of the establishment Republican political class’ conventional wisdom that the social issues are losers and should be avoided at all costs.

In that vein, Fiorina also had another unlikely moment as she dominated Trump and Dr. Ben Carson as the outsider candidate who actually knows foreign leaders’ names and gets them right, and who has a grasp of the specifics of our national security and defense needs.

After a lengthy segment where Rand Paul went after Bush and others for their interventionist foreign policy pronouncements Fiorina said:

We have spent probably 12 minutes talking about the past. Let's talk about the future.

We need the strongest military on the face of the planet, and everyone has to know it. And, specifically, what that means is we need about 50 Army brigades, we need about 36 Marine battalions, we need somewhere between 300, and 350 naval ships, we need to upgrade every leg of the nuclear triad... [and] we need to reform the Department of Defense...

Whether or not those are the exact national defense needs of 21st century America I leave to others to determine, but I do know that one of the secrets of marketing is that specifics sell (think Ivory soap and its claim of being 99 and 44/100 percent pure). Specifics lend credibility to a claim and authority to a spokesman or in this case spokeswoman and no one challenged Fiorina on the cost or necessity of those specifics, giving her further credibility.

But all the crosstalk and back and forth that made for good TV  – especially between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush – may have had a not so unintended consequence. And that was to diminish the candidates who engaged in it too heavily.

While Jeb Bush worked hard to stay on offense and to show he had more energy – even engaging in several attempts at humor on the topic – he also undercut his well-cultivated image as the establishment’s “adult in the room.”

Trump likewise was often on the offensive, prompting Senator Rand Paul to characterize an early Trump attack as “sophomoric.” And Senator Paul was right.

Of course the question everyone wants answered is, “Who ‘won’ last night’s debate?”

Several of the candidates did well and helped themselves; Matt Drudge’s flash poll showed Ted Cruz did well and that Marco Rubio had a good night.

Rubio took good advantage of the opportunity to tell his compelling personal story and he showed a strong command of national security issues – which distinguished him from Jeb Bush and the other establishment candidates.

While I’m no debate coach, I do know a thing or two about marketing, and from a marketing perspective the candidate who clearly improved their brand recognition and standing was Carly Fiorina.

It remains to be seen out of whose market share Carly Fiorina’s inevitable rise in the polls will come, and while she may be a late adherent to the conservative agenda, Fiorina showed herself to be a fierce competitor with a knack for homing in on the discontents grassroots conservatives have with those they perceive as “politicians” and turning that discontent to her advantage.

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Debate #2

Fiorina and Carson? Perhaps Carson and Fiorina? Interesting, but probably irrelevant since so many of the southern Dem … I mean Tea Partyists will sit on their hands, if this comes to fruition.

Carly Fiorina vs. Bobby Jindal


You represent, without doubt, the final word in analysis and commentary on political opinion. Your analysis of Carly Fiorina's performance in last evening's debates is right on the money.

But for my money I sure do NOT want her to ascend to the presidency. At the risk of appearing to be a male chauvinist pig, Carly is obviously a feminist. She devoted her life to the workforce instead of being a stay-at-home mother rearing her son properly, who I understand died a drug addict. The president, like a teacher, must be a model of exemplary quality - a true feminist cannot meet this goal because motherhood is a full-time job.

Five months ago I decided Bobby Jindal was the best qualified, but unless he gets more exposure he might be overlooked. I hope not. Bobby is a true American and the smartest one of the group -- we desperately need smartness now. -JW

Carly Fiorina

From what I have read,she is a well-disguised Socialist!!! America MUST not repeat the Obama regime.