Reader Dave Begley has reported for us from Iowa on appearances by presidential candidates including Democrat/Socialist Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Scott Walker. Dave is a Nebraska resident who, like us, is a representative specimen of the kind of active conservative who participates in Republican caucuses and (in Dave’e case) primaries. Today Dave files this enthusiastic report on the appearance of Republican candidate Carly Fiorina in Iowa yesterday:
She was terrific.
She has a chance as the polls are misleading. They are polls of the entire country, not voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. In those small states people have a chance actually to meet the candidates and personally size them up. What Carly presents is a triple threat: she is very persuasive, she is the ultimate outsider and she is a woman. For those female voters not strongly attached to a candidate now, once they meet her she can win a significant number of “identity” voters. And she does that aspect of her campaign quite subtly and never says, “I would be the historic first woman President.” People aren’t stupid and they don’t want to be clubbed over the head about the obvious.
She is conducting a small hand-to-hand campaign in these first two states. She threw out the nugget that at this same time in the campaign no one gave Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama a chance either. Translation: Your vote won’t be wasted on me. Follow your heart and your mind.
In a small state and a big field she can put up big numbers if she follows the campaign strategy of the Broadway song, “I want to be nine people’s favorite thing/than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.” Since she has started at zero, a nine percent vote would be a victory and build momentum.
The Des Moines Register reported that there were about 80 people in attendance. The room was full. Many of the people knew each other. My seat mate was undecided and I think many in the audience were the same way. One car in the parking lot had a Walker sticker.
The thing that initially attracted me to her as a candidate was her direct statement “Hillary Clinton must not be President.” On the drive over Rush Limbaugh gave her praise on that very point. He said that the candidates need to focus on beating Hillary rather than beating each other up.
When she first arrived she shook hands with everyone. One woman called out that she wanted to hear the “hormone” comment again. She did and I will discuss below.
I had seen her stump speech before on C-SPAN from New Hampshire. She followed it with two Iowa additions.
She said the United States is the greatest country ever in the history of the world and she is proof of it as she rose from secretary to CEO of one of the biggest (and most complex) tech companies in America. Why? Because our Founders set up a radical system for people to fulfill their God-given potential.
Right now people’s potential is being crushed by government and she gave two Iowa examples. The EPA is currently proposing the regulation of 98 percent of the groundwater. This is not well known in the cities but one can bet that Iowa farmers are plugged into it. The other Iowa example she gave was her recent encounter with a poultry farmer. Millions and millions of birds have been killed this year. The farmer she met had been hit hard. He knew what to do to stop it from spreading, but he was forced to wait days until government help from DC arrived. Result? The avian flu spread to other farms and his losses mounted. That’s a story Reagan would tell but there was never any video of this disaster on CNN because it all happened in Iowa and it wasn’t a fire or plane crash.
She hit the leadership angle hard. She didn’t mention Obama by name other to say we are in perilous times. She described herself as one who will attack the status quo.
Carly quoted Margaret Thatcher, “I am unwilling to manage the decline of a great nation.” That’s another way to say, “It is Morning in America” or that she will “make America great again.” (Aside: Not a word on Trump and only an oblique reference to The Donald.)
Great applause for her line that 80 percent of Americans believe that we are being ruled by a professional political class. That is a huge strength for her and shows that even though she is an outsider, she can win a general election of Dems and Indepedents.
Her hormone comment was extraordinarily clever. The question from a past encounter was whether a woman could be president due to hormones affecting her decisions. “Ladies, has there ever been a case where a man’s hormones affected his judgment?” Laughter.
But there is more to that comment than the “I am Woman, hear me roar” angle. She is saying indirectly that our country can’t take the drama of a Bill Clinton rambling around the White House again looking to jump interns who are young enough to be a granddaughter. We all know he will (and so does Hillary) but Carly didn’t even mention Bill. Sharp.
Our economy is still not growing and she said she knows how the real economy works. And even though she worked at the Fortune 50 level, she is going to bat for the small business person who doesn’t have lobbyists in DC.
She then pivoted to her meetings with world leaders on matters of substance. She designated me as Vlad Putin as I was sitting only two feet from her. I must look Russian.
She had a very clever close. She described the roles of Lady Liberty and Lady Justice in American symbolism. The listener can conclude that Carly is both. The female listener can think, “And it is about time a woman is in charge.” But she didn’t say either thing directly. A conclusion that a listener reaches by herself is more strongly held. That was a masterful touch of persuasion.
After 15-20 minutes of Carly she did 15-20 minutes of questions and answers. She said that she would call the Prime Minister of Israel on day one and then Iran’s Supreme Leader. The Iran deal is off and she would use the SWIFT system to cut off Iran’s ability to move money. She would then roll back regulations on a massive scale. Both actions are constitutional acts of the Executive.
The second question was about taxes. A 75,000 page tax code is cut to three pages. Why? Because it is unfair to small business. A big and complicated tax code favors the wealthy and well connected. A powerful point and consistent with her main theme.
I asked her about her the influence of her dad on her political thought. I stated that I knew he had taught federal tax law and then been a federal judge. I also mentioned that Hillary had just proposed a tax increase.
She gave a delightful and personal answer. She already knew about HRC’s proposed tax increase although it had only been out for two hours. She said that she learned conservatism at her father’s knee. He used to yell at Walter Cronkite and the New York Times. (Sound like anyone here?) She thought tax law was boring until she realized that tax law is how DC picks winners and losers and perpetuates the crony capitalism system. Powerful stuff grounded in gritty reality.
Her dad served on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most liberal in the land. When the Ninth Circuit was reversed by the Supreme Court, her dad’s dissent was cited and quoted. She said she would pick judges like her dad: strict constitutionalists.
A question was put to her about the recent Planned Parenthood matter. Again she showed her ability to challenge the status quo and control the message. She told the audience to watch the video of her and CNN’s Jake Tapper. She schooled him. (And in any debate she would destroy Hillary.) Her main point is that Hillary is the extremist and her “not a child until it leaves the hospital” position reflects poorly on the character of a nation. She would defund Planned Parenthood. Big applause.
Her stump speech was exceptionally well-crafted, especially when compared to the 75 minutes of Bernie Sanders. She is very quick of mind and completely unflappable. And since she had started her day at 7:00 a.m., she has plenty of energy to take that 3:00 a.m. phone call. Again, cf. HRC.
I suppose for some she has a “Mitt” problem. Yes, she is rich, so people wonder, “Does she care about a person like me?” I would only suggest that people appreciate the fact that she has been divorced, fired from her job, had cancer and one stepchild die due to drug addiction. I don’t know any family in America that hasn’t been touched by at least one of those four horribles. She was nice as pie to the crowd and not stiff at all.
She has a steep hill to climb simply because she now has essentially zero name recognition. If not nominated for President, she would be the perfect nominee for Vice President.