To their feet in the first five minutes…that’s what Carly Fiorina did to the crowd of conservatives at RedState Gathering 2015. She seemed to receive more frequent and more vigourous approbation than Chris Christie, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal who preceded her at the podium. Speaking without notes, she made it clear that she has worked through the issues, and fashioned compelling ways to express her views on them.
“We must win in 2016,” Fiorina said, “We must have a nominee who throws every punch.” This is, of course, a veiled acknowledgement of her sex, and the difficulty a male candidate might have going full Ronda Rousey on a female Democratic candidate.
Not only does Fiorina say she can win, but more importantly she says she can do the job, because she understands the economy and the devastating impact of dependency. The engine of growth is small, often-family, businesses. And we’re now destroying more small businesses than we’re creating — more than at any time in American history. It’s a preventable and curable condition.
She spoke with conviction about unlocking the potential of every American, freeing them from the indignity of government dependency and making sure that a zip code is not a fence when it comes to education.
“We have to give every parent a choice so that every child has a chance,” Fiorina said.
“The highest calling of leadership is to challenge the status quo,” she said, indicating that this would require a president who understands Washington and geopolitical strategy, but who is not of Washington.
Her speech was brief, to leave room for more questions. See the Q&A on next page.
How would she reduce the power of the Chamber of Commerce?
This was the second time today that a candidate took a Chamber question, but it seemed like Fiorina misheard it as Department of Commerce, going on to talk about how to rein in the size, scope and spending of government agencies. The audience and moderator seemed to miss the hiccup, as she went on to advocate zero-based budgeting, forcing government to justify every penny every year.
Asked if she might use her powers of persuasion to “explain the way the world works to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner,” Fiorina was direct, but gracious.
“People get captured by a system they’ve been in too long,” she said. “People settle in to the status quo. And those who protect the status quo most aggressively are those who benefit from it. We need someone who is not of it, but who understands it, to change it.”
A RedState audience member ask about her style of leadership, and she said the reason she rose through the ranks from secretary at a nine-person real estate firm to CEO of a $90 billion company was simple: “Any time I saw a problem, I would run to the problem. I would find people who knew how to solve the problem but had never been asked. My leadership style is to ask people who know how to solve the problem.”
Fiorina said she would start fixing the Veterans Administration by putting ten veterans in a room and asking: “Tell us how you want to be served.”
“That would give us a better blueprint for how to serve those who’ve served us than all of the bureaucrats in Washington,” she added.
She also proposed a weekly radio address during which she’d give Americans the opportunity to give feedback via their smartphones to questions of importance.
Asked “what will you do to engage Hispanic and black voters and lure them back to the party of Lincoln,” Fiorina said she won’t pit identity groups against each other like the Democrats do, holding them back and keeping them in poverty.
“I will say to every American, each of us is gifted by God. None of us is better than any other. All of us can live lives of dignity and purpose and meaning.”