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Presidential Horse Race 2016: How high will Carly Fiorina rise?

Few would dispute Carly Fiorina made a major impression on Americans during last week’s CNN debate, but probably not many realized at the time it would catapult her to second place in the Republican presidential race.

Carly FiorinaBut that’s exactly what’s reflected in a major post-debate poll. The CNN/ORC survey showed Donald Trump maintaining his lead at 24 percent with Fiorina next at 15 percent – up from 3 percent last month. Carly was followed by Ben Carson and Marco Rubio at 14 and 11 percent respectively.

The other notable poll finisher was Scott Walker, who failed to even generate 1 percent support of those surveyed. Ouch.

Steven Shepard of Politico adds, “Fiorina's name-ID has improved over the past month: Now, 54 percent have a favorable opinion of her, compared to 17 percent who viewed her unfavorably. In August, 44 percent said they had either never heard of Fiorina or didn't know enough about her to form an opinion. In the new poll, only 29 percent didn't have an opinion of her.”

Meanwhile, a post-debate Rasmussen Reports poll found Ben Carson has overtaken Trump (slightly) in voters who believed the former neurosurgeon would ultimately win the nomination. Fiorina advanced in that one as well.

Lastly on polls, a separate survey released by NBC News on Sunday found Trump still comfortably ahead with Carson and Fiorina next – with the three together taking 54% combined support.

While the race remains volatile, it’s clear people are still looking outside the establishment for the new potential leader of the GOP.

Fiorina hits the road after debate, tries to build a tangible campaign

Now that Carly Fiorina has become a recognized name in the Republican race, it will be crucial for her to take advantage of the greatly increased attention to try and nail down her support.

In her first post-debate appearance, Fiorina headed to South Carolina on Saturday to speak at the Heritage Action forum and was a big hit according to Shane Goldmacher of Politico.

“For the first time in her campaign, Fiorina was the headliner. Even more so after Donald Trump abruptly cancelled his appearance at the event. Everyone rushed to their seats to hear her. The corridors outside the arena were nearly empty as she spoke, and when she finished many got up to leave.”

(She’ll appear on the The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon tonight as well.)

Donald Trump said he cancelled because of a business commitment. Goldmacher notes the other “outsiders” were similarly well received. “Besides Fiorina, Carson and Ted Cruz got among the most raucous receptions in an event that spanned five hours of almost continuous speeches from GOP presidential candidates.”

Goldmacher also highlights how Carly’s campaign is experiencing difficulty handling the massive amount of attention the candidate is now generating. You can forgive them for their frustrations – but it also indicates how Fiorina is going to have to ramp up the nuts and bolts organization if she’s going to maintain her status as a serious contender.

David Drucker of the Washington Examiner reports on what she needs. “In hard fought, early-state presidential caucuses and primaries, leading in the polls isn't enough. Winning candidates oversee effective voter turnout operations. That means being organized on the ground, connected to key grassroots activists and raising the money to pay for it all.”

It’s the same story we’ve heard with Donald Trump first and then with Ben Carson. Trump has the personal resources to fuel his run and Carson arguably enjoyed a nice head-start with his national visibility, fame as an author and established popularity with Iowa’s homeschool community.

Carly’s got the message and an innate ability to articulate it – the rest will need to be built from the ground up.

Best endorsement yet: Barbara Boxer says Carly is “mean”

For what it’s worth, ultra-liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer isn’t impressed with Fiorina’s elevated stature in the Republican race. Carly was the California Republican nominee for Senate in 2010 and subsequently engaged in a very contentious battle with the three term Senator who was running for re-election at the time.

Fiorina lost by ten points, but what conservative would have a realistic chance to win in California?

As reported by Eliza Collins of Politico, Boxer said Carly “was by far the most mean-spirited opponent I ever had.”

Boxer is used to running against the type of RINO patsies the disjointed California Republican Party puts forth to run statewide – when she actually drew an opponent who hit back, she didn’t like it.

Boxer is not running for reelection next year. Too bad – it would be fascinating to see how a President Fiorina would handle some of her old political enemies. Here’s predicting it wouldn’t be pretty.

A ray of hope for Rand Paul?

As I noted in my review of last week’s debate, Rand Paul was one of two candidates who stood out on foreign policy. His passionate pleas for the notion of non-intervention were in stark contrast to the overt drum-beating by most of the candidates when discussing the Middle East.

The question for Paul is whether he can find enough Republicans to buy-in to such a philosophy to make him the party nominee. After all, his dad based his presidential runs on the concept and didn’t get very far.

David Boaz of The National Interest wonders if Rand can take his debate differentiation (Boaz adds that Paul also set himself apart on marijuana, federalism, taxes and the Constitution in addition to foreign policy) and turn it to his advantage.

“Coincidentally or not, Paul’s standing in the polls has fallen as he seemed to move away from the noninterventionist positions associated with his father, congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul. He called for a declaration of war with ISIS, more military spending, and rejection of President Obama’s Iran deal,” Boaz observed.

Boaz points out Paul openly argued for a more realistic tone to combating world threats during the debate, however – and Rand also said we should be willing to talk with our enemies, as Ronald Reagan did.

Is Paul’s new non-intervention emphasis paying off? Hard to tell, but his supporters will argue it is because he just won a straw poll in Michigan (at the Mackinac Island Republican Leadership Conference).

Alex Isenstadt of Politico reports, “Paul led with 22 percent, followed by Carly Fiorina with 15 percent, John Kasich with 13 percent, and Ted Cruz with 12 percent. Trailing them were Jeb Bush with 9 percent, Marco Rubio with 8 percent, and Donald Trump with 6 percent.

“…The straw poll is electorally meaningless, but it is an exercise in political organizing and several campaigns worked the halls of the Grand Hotel aggressively – especially Paul’s.”

Rand enjoys the undying favor of many of his father’s supporters from the past two Republican primary cycles – and they’ve shown that they turn out on Election Day. If he’s able to stir up the same kind of enthusiasm that Ron engendered, it’s nothing to sneeze at.

Let the establishment take note.

(Note: The same NBC News/Survey Monkey poll referenced above found Rand came in last during the debate – numbers don’t lie.)

Lastly on Rand, there’s “fight” in his staffers as well. As Kelly Cohen of the Washington Examiner reports, “According to John Yob, the national political director and chief Michigan strategist for the Paul campaign, Rich Beeson, who is deputy campaign manager for Rubio, punched him Thursday inside Horn's Bar on Mackinac Island.”

Police are still investigating. No telling what long hours, the stress of a campaign and a little booze mixed in will do to people.

CNN’s debate moderators tried very hard to get the candidates to “fight” with each other last week – if only they could move the next forum to a bar, they might just get their wish.

Trump, Carson and the Muslims

Finally today, Donald Trump drew the ire of the media last week when he failed to “correct” a citizen who asserted during a town hall meeting that President Obama “is a Muslim.”

The “Muslim” topic came up again on Sunday. Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” played a clip of an interview where Ben Carson said he would not be in favor of allowing a Muslim to be president.

Bradford Richardson of The Hill reports, “Carson… said he does not believe the Muslim faith is compatible with the U.S. Constitution. He also said he would consider voting for a Muslim running for Congress, provided their values are consistent with America’s.”

Anyone with a brain knows Carson was referring to being uncomfortable with a Muslim assuming the president’s role as Commander-in-Chief when the country is at war with radical Islam. His and Trump’s views may not fit in the politically correct box of accepted speech these days, but there are many Americans who believe the same way. And it doesn’t make them bigots – it makes them realists.

Both men said they trust Obama when he says he’s a Christian. Shouldn’t we just leave it at that?

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I have recently read a good

I have recently read a good bit about Carly and I do not think she is suited for the presidency. She is a vindictive person when things don't go to suit her.....we do not need another vindictive person in this office. We need someone who is a leader who can take counsel with his cabinet and make proper decisions for the good of the country....not for personal achievement! I have had it with egotistical, narcissistic personalities!

Smoke and Mirrors.....

Fiorina has only risen in very select poles because of the media. She is an uninformed FemiNazi. And Trump is laps ahead of her, still.

Trump is the only one that can save our country at this late stage. A mistake now could be our last.

Trump in 2016.