As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Fiorina Wins It!

Carly Fiorina won the second Republican primary debate, continuing her rise to contender status by a display of passion, command of detail, and ability to parry attackers.

By contrast, Jeb Bush once again failed to rise above the pack, perhaps leaving the high rollers who have gambled on his campaign wondering if they are betting on the bay.

Bush lacked the sharp edge of Fiorina, and certainly that of front-runner Donald Trump. The man who was supposed to be dominating this race needed to be great Wednesday night, and he definitely fell short.


Trump moderated his tone and did himself little harm, launching his usual bruising attacks on his opponents and continuing to offer up the political incorrectness that has helped make him a hit.

“We have a country where, to assimilate, you have to speak English,” Trump said.

While Trump is often given a pass on his unconventional campaign, it’s unclear whether his continued unwillingness to talk specifics will begin to hurt him.

“We will do something really special. We will make this country greater than ever before,” Trump said, echoing comments he has made before. “We’ll find solutions and the world will respect us like never before.”

Trump’s only serious proposal so far has been on immigration. He said a tax plan was on the way — in two weeks.

But Fiorina soared, just as she did during the first debate of the season, when she was part of the second-tier contest hosted by Fox News in Cleveland last month.

Fiorina shook the rafters with a searing description of the videos that have exposed Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of organs from fetuses.

“I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes, watch a fully-formed fetus on the table with a heart beating and legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,'” she said. “If we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.”

Fiorina noted that she and her husband “buried a child to drug addiction,” drawing a sharp contrast to Bush’s meaningless “confession” that he had smoked pot decades before. “The pot today is very different than pot Jeb just admitted to smoking 40 years ago,” Fiorina said.

Smartly, Fiorina held her passion in check when addressing Trump’s earlier comments that she had an ugly face, using it to probe one of his weak points: the charge that he is misogynist.

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Fiorina said icily. Loud applause followed.

“I think she’s got a beautiful face and I think she’s a beautiful woman,” Trump responded, but his attempt at magnanimity appeared to fall flat with the audience at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

Nevertheless, Trump prodded at what could be a weakness for Fiorina, noting she was fired as CEO of Hewlett-Packard and that the company has done poorly in the aftermath of her stewardship. Fiorina didn’t deny the charges, but sought to minimize them and struck hard at Trump, zeroing in on his bankruptcy filings.

“That is precisely the way you ran your companies. You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people’s money,” Fiorina said, as Trump shook his head. “Why should we trust you to manage the finances of this nation?”

Fiorina, though, wasn’t immune to recycling old applause lines herself. “Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment,” she said. Still, she drew applause, with many in the audience never having heard the line.

Ironically, Jeb Bush’s best moments may have come as he was confronted with what is supposed to be his biggest weakness — his legacy as the brother and son of presidents who aren’t held in particularly high regard by the GOP base or the rest of the country.

After Trump charged that George W. Bush “gave us Barack Obama” by having a disastrous presidency, Bush responded: “You know what? As it relates to my brother, there is one thing I know for sure: He kept us safe.”

Bush may be starting to find that references to his family — he made several Wednesday night — will help rather than hurt him, since it seems to be his main claim to distinctiveness from among the presidential pack. The small crowd of 500 applauded.

Also strong-arming his way into the forefront of the debate was a newly assertive Chris Christie, who was truer to his reputation Wednesday night as a tough talking New Jersey governor.

“I’ve vetoed 400 bills from a crazy, liberal Democratic legislature,” Christie said.

At one point he demanded that CNN pan the cameras to the audience, seeking a show of hands by those who think that “in today’s Barack Obama America, your children will have a better life than you’ve had.” The network meekly complied.

Christie got fired up after Trump and Fiorina debated their business qualifications, saying in his frank way, “the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job” couldn’t care less about their business histories.

At one point, Christie swatted away efforts by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Fiorina to step on his lines. “John, John, I’m not done yet, John,” Christie said.

When Fiorina tried to seize the moment, Christie shoved back. “Carly, listen. You can interrupt anybody else on this stage — you can’t interrupt me,” he said.

Ben Carson, who is running second in many polls, continued to do what has gotten him where he is. He seemed like a reasonable un-politician.

“I hope that I sound logical, because when I look at the United States, I see a lot of things that are not logical,” Carson said.

Sen. Ted Cruz also delivered a solid performance, emphasizing his opposition to “amnesty” and Planned Parenthood while continuing with what seems to be his chief strategic objective: Tying himself to Trump. “I’m very glad that Donald Trump’s being in this race has forced the mainstream media finally to talk about illegal immigration,” Cruz said.

Scott Walker, who has been dropping like a lead anchor in the polls, failed to seize the moment in a way that could reverse his sagging fortunes. Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, turned in an adequate performance, but probably not one that will change his position much in the polls.

Gov. John Kasich likewise had some strong moments early in the debate, decrying the ad hominem attacks that have defined the early days, but probably did little to move himself out of the middle of the pack.

Sen. Rand Paul had ample media time to express his small-government libertarian views, but he also took some lumps early on from Trump.

“Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage,” Trump said in the first few minutes. “He’s at one percent in the polls.” At another point, Trump suggested Paul was ugly, too. “I never attacked him on his looks. And believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter.”

Trump also put away Bush a couple of times with one liners, winning a battle to speak by flummoxing him: “More energy tonight, I like that.”

Denying a charge by Bush that he sought to legalize gambling in Florida, Trump sounded like the tough businessman he is: “If I wanted it, I would have gotten it.”

But Trump will now find himself dealing more and more with another tough customer from the business world — and she doesn’t seem as easily rattled by Trump as Bush does.

This piece first appeared on PoliZette.

71 Responses to Fiorina Wins It!

  1. “Trump suggested Paul was ugly”, that was low but typical Trump.
    I like Rand Paul, he is the best, has the best arguments , but I guess he is a too good person to be a president in this mean world. Young people love him . And he looks good and smart. There, Mr Trump.
    I don´t trust the woman from the corporate world, Mrs Fiorina. I find her… synthetic. Not genuine. I do not see any authentic passion there.

  2. Love her!
    I love her fire and passion!
    She comes across ready to rumble and take charge.
    Donald and his body language/facial expressions are just too much.

  3. You have written an excellent summation of the debate. Thanks.

    I thought CNN was trying to provoke fights between the candidates. Can you image FOX doing a debate by the Democrats?

    Drudge is conducting a “who won the debate” poll this morning. It had Trump winning by 58%, with Carly coming in second with 17%. I don’t see it that way. I agree with Keith’s assessment that Carly won.

  4. Carly certainly did prove she belonged on that stage.

    For being 3 hours long, the time moved quickly, thanks to Tapper’s smooth demeanor and the other mods not being obnoxious :)

    I’m more convinced than ever, any one of those candidates are far better than anything the Dems are offering.

    • Agree–a promising field…still. But this mess was WAY too long!!! They did it to squeeze in more advertisers–for shame, my whole body was numb. Get real! And the ceaseless baiting–I thought Tapper was a decent journalist but no longer. Don’t even know who blondie is.

  5. No, she didn’t win anything last night. It was the Pile on Trump debacle, not a debate on issues or political positions.
    “MrTrump said this – what do you say to that?”
    No one was asked – Jeb! thinks illegal aliens sneaking across our border is an “act of love”- what do you say to that? No one was asked to comment on GovChristie’s man crush on PresObama.
    DrCarson is so out of his depth as a Presidential candidate the question arises as to who is running him and why.
    The other candidates who are trailing in the polls should retire gracefully and return to whatever they were doing before 2015.

    No one can touch MrTrump’s grand appeal – that no one “owns” him, and that he doesn’t claim to know everything, but would find the best people for each situation.

  6. Hardly a government department or agency that can do their job, correctly. Currently “Dog Catchers” are only bringing in cats. Whomever has the misfortune to be our next president will be another Don Quixote like the last few presidents. Currently it’s a mess beyond repair. Is it time to junk it and start over?
    Radical wholesale firings? Going to take a big stick.

  7. I still have issues with the format of these performances, and that’s what they are. It’s more X Factor than Lincoln-Douglas. “He said this about you, how do you respond?” Childish, silly stuff. “Hey, folks, who won? Who lost? And don’t forget to see the Alligator Man just just the boardwalk! Get your fresh hot dogs, right here!”

    I don’t know what the answer to all this is. The format, with over a dozen people trying to get a sound bite going, is awkward, non-productive and a disservice to the American people. The programs following the “debate” were all aflutter with who said what, what did they mean by it, who did well, who flunked, what did they really mean, etc. I watched the show, I don’t need some conkyhead “news person” to interpret it for me and tell me how I should think about Trump, or Carly, or Christy or anyone else.

    This is the most important election in many years, and the issues at stake are the most important in our lifetime. Surely there must be a better way to do this.

    • Agree.
      After some, um, refreshments this is what our group came up with after the debacle:
      ThurstonHowell, III – Gilligan’s Island
      Rochester- Jack Benny Show
      NeroWolfe – of the series
      BudAbbot -and-
      LouCostello – any production
      KathrynHepburn – the Philadelphian
      HumphreyBogart- the AfricanQueen
      DagwoodBumstead- Blondie
      ClarkKent – Superman
      PeterLorre- the Maltese Falcon
      LouGrant – MaryTylerMoore show
      The CNN moderators:
      Sheriff Andy Taylor
      Deputy Barney Fife
      Aunt Bee.

      • LOL.. very good list. Very good, indeed.

        Another point: CNN is reporting record viewership. Something like 20 million people watching. Well, that’s pathetic. In a country of, what 350,000,000 people, only 7-8 percent watched this thing, despite all the hoopla, marching bands and dancing elephants CNN promised? That’s not a success story.

        • CNN is such a sucky network–I am sorry, but it is. And I know some libbies who swear by it. I say at least watch Morning Joe instead–you will find “your” people there, but also some intelligent repartee. Speaking of, though–they had Big Don on and he was cranking out the croc tears on how little time the others got. I BET he wanted more people to get between him and the camera. To me he seemed to be soaking up facts to save himself some research–there are 650 agencies, well, darn, better look into that. Quds–so THAT is what that guy was saying–they are Iranian.

          • I know. You just wonder if these networks crow about how their job is to present news, etc in an objective, clear, professional manner, how is it that they constantly create information chaos? One of life’s great mysteries.

          • I have concluded their job is to please the boss–Andy Lack in MSNBC’s case and the advertisers–as for “reporting” stories, letting people speak and citizens to judge–that is over.

    • I think a format like Frank Luntz’s focus groups would be nice for this large a field. At least the candiates would have been sitting for 3 hours. :)

  8. Three-hour endurance test. Debate II.
    Quick summary:

    Ninety minutes pissed away trying to get the candidates to brawl.

    Jake Tapper in drag as Candy Crowley.
    CNN trying to clear runway for Hillary landing.
    Total blackout on two keys words: Economy and ISIS/refugees.

  9. Had a hard time staying focused during the grueling event. Everyone fighting for face time, trying to make that one comment that will be remembered.

    Trump: no change in demeanor, no plan yet either.
    Carson: calling Dr Ben, where were you?
    Fiorina: I am woman, hear me roar…with facts
    Christie: I can bluster with the best of ’em.
    Paul: easy professor, your tenure is shaking.
    Bush: identity crisis in full bloom
    Kasich: Adult in the room but needs character
    Rubio: was that sweat over his left ear?
    Cruz: smart man, but slightly snide delivery
    Huckabee: the mass is ended, go in peace
    Walker: Go Pack, where’s my cheesehead



    • Huckabee, although afforded little time, hit the right chords.
      Rubio made some valid points.
      Carson is a nice man. He should do better things in retirement.
      Cruz is not designed for television. Had that Nixon pasty look.
      Paul is not made for politics in America.
      Kasich overused the word ‘unity’. It started to sound like the ‘political justice’ meme from the Dems.
      Christy held his own.
      Carly business-like and handled herself well.
      Trump mellow compared to past performances and not a lot of substance.
      Walker was swallowed by the size of the stage.
      Jeb. Barbara Bush was right, he shouldn’t run.

  10. I lost my mouthful of popcorn when Fiorina said her SS nickname would be Secretariat. The underdog racing to the winner’s circle. Former secretary. Horse face. Wha?!

  11. We had pretty much the same assessment of the performances. Carly clearly took it to the rest of the field. Carson was too quiet and backed a couple of positions that are, at best, unusual. Trump is showing more that he’s out of his depth on policy, though his point about knowing how to assemble a great team around him is well-taken. The Carly-v-Trump moments were great. She has his number and isn’t impressed by his bluster. It will be very interesting to see what happens with the top three, and to see if Christie broke out at all. If not now, probably never, and we are down to the three who will be the finalists.

    • Carson was too quiet and backed a couple of positions that are, at best, unusual.

      At best is right! Good thing he is soft-spoken so people slide over some of the wacky things he comes up with.

    • How do we know Trump will assemble a great team–he only mentions Carl Icahn and unspecified TV generals–are we going to see Bill Rancic, Amerosa, or even Eric from THE FIVE, who has come up with some plan to underpay for Mexican oil to pay for the wall?

  12. As for Carly’s business background, is there anyone on this list who has not been fired or laid off? I have. Most people have at one time or another. In my case, out of college, I worked for this guy who invented the algebraic theory of machines–he was an early computer genius. He was a beltway bandit–one contract we had was with NASA on how to cut the most bras out of the least cloth…why NASA, I forget. One day he came in, said he was moving to Paris and we were all fired. Quite a shock. It happens…

  13. Keith you are very good at research-Research Carly
    According to Fact Checkers on Fiorina From Last Night’s Debate Her Nose Should Have Grown Longer by This AM
    Carly Fiorina Calls Islam Civilization was “Greatest in the World” After WTC Bombing
    Carly Fiorina blasts Barbara Boxer’s hair and Meg Whitman on hot mic
    Portfolio 5-9 Carly called 19th worst CEO of all time-AP 11-5-09 Carly Fiorina HP tenure called a reign of TERROR-The Australian 1-8-02 Carly voted most Brand-Damaging CEO-
    When asked why Trump attacks Carly’s past business experience,Remember Trump has kept with business news since he was 27 years old.

      • Do you really think so, Star ? Just saw a rerun of the debate on CNN and I dislike her even more. Her views on foreign politics ! Good heavens, she sounded like a paranoid Djingis Khan looking for something to bomb. Trump, on the other hand, had a diplomatic approach considering Russia which sounded hopeful.

        • I do like and respect her, SL. In my younger days, I knew several women who had made it in a man’s world–they were crisp, factual, cool under pressure, never gave an opening for people to disrespect them or call them a b-word or anything. The technology world is still a boy’s club..she made her bones in that world, down to the firings and layoffs that many cos had to do. She played with the big dogs–she was one–and when she got kicked off the porch, she took it and ran for office against an entrenched Dem incumbent in a Dem state–gutsy. She lost but came back–and here she is. Now her antagonist on the HP board has paid for a full-pager in the times saying she was right, he was wrong. She does her homework, does not er and um, has organized thoughts and could run this joint. As I have said, I am more partial to Kasich, who goes back to my era on the Hill. But I did 16 yrs on a boy’s club and I know my cookies about how that is. You have to have a thick skin, botox or no. This is no place for the cuddly and winsome.

    • Just posted Fiorina’s 9/26/01 Islam praising speech upthread before I read your post. Do we really want another Obama Muslim lover in the WH?
      Carly lived in Ghana with her parents for one year as a teenager. She also loved the beautiful sound of the ram’s horn calling Muslims to prayer. Wonder if any of them joined ISIS in later years….

      • Girly, I heard those sounds all the time when I was in Turkey. It sounded exotic but vaguely threatening to me as a Western woman. I get suspicious when Western politicians go out loudly praising these calls for prayers . Why ? Oh, give me church bells any time.

  14. I thought that Chris Christie finally came out of the shadows and could prove to be a contender.
    He’s done it in NJ and I agree with him that it’s tough to be a republican in NJ and get the job done. He was a DA, I believe and knows his way around the court room, good skills for dealing with foreign leaders, and he actually knows the US constitution.

    He also showed that he’s on the ball with what the country wants and it’s not to watch rich people fight about who got “fired”…He asked the country what we needed and wanted…

    Let’s give him a chance.

    • I have a similar feeling–I think, oh, no, but then I start to listen to him and get sucked in. The man makes sense. Yes, at least one person from NJ says he is not the real deal, but he has pointed out many times the mess he dealt with was huge and he had to work acr the aisle with a Dem legislature. Who in this bunch even saw an aisle much less worked acr itt–well, maybe Rubio in Fl. Does Kasich have a Dem legislature? Don’t know.