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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
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    The only Republican woman running for president probably won’t be in the first debate

    The only Republican woman running for president probably won’t be in the first debate

    Jon Ward Senior Political Correspondent July 13, 2015

    Carly Fiorina speaks to Chamber of Commerce members in Salem, N.H., on July 8. (Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

    NASHUA, N.H. **— As it now stands, when Fox News broadcasts the first Republican presidential primary debate on Aug. 6 from Cleveland, Ohio, the lone woman in the field of 17 GOP candidates will not be on the stage.

    Carly Fiorina, the 60-year-old former Hewlett Packard CEO, will be watching the proceedings on TV like the rest of the nation. And America will see 10 men on the screen.

    The cutoff Fox News decided on for the first debate — which CNN also will use for the second debate, on Sept. 16 — is that only the top 10 candidates in the five most recent national polls will get to participate. Fiorina is stuck at around 2 percent in the Real Clear Politics polling average, which puts her in 12th place.

    Being shut out of the debates could be a fatal blow for a candidate like Fiorina, who has never held elected office and hopes to go from largely unknown to in-the-running.

    Only two women have made even half-serious runs for the Republican presidential nomination in the past two decades:

    Elizabeth Dole in 2000 and Michele Bachmann in 2012. Neither got very far, and only Bachmann lasted long enough to take part in primary debates.

    For a Republican Party that has come to be known as the party of old white men, having a woman on stage would be helpful — to say the least — for its image. But the cable news networks’ rules, not to mention the elevation by Fox, CNN and MSNBC of novelty candidates such as Donald Trump, make it unlikely one will be there. Already Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in 13th place, is nipping at Fiorina’s heels. He has not even announced yet, and a group supporting him has just put $1 million worth of TV ads on the air in Boston and New Hampshire. Given these factors, he is likely to overtake her before the debate.

    On a recent weekday evening here in southern New Hampshire, Fiorina allowed herself to vent in public for a brief moment about the situation she finds herself in. This was her ninth trip this year to New Hampshire, which votes second in the primary process, and her 12th since 2014. She was nearing the end of a weeklong trip in the state, with multiple events each day. No other candidate is campaigning this hard in New Hampshire this early.

    Fiorina is doing what candidates traditionally have in the Granite State. She hopes to grind along, day after day, much like Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., did in 2008 or like former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., did in 2012 in Iowa. But even Santorum was in the 2012 primary debates. And this year, the debates have taken on outsized importance precisely because there are so many candidates.

    Fiorina finds herself in a dilemma. It’s hard to get the poll numbers to get into a debate without being on TV, and it’s hard to get on TV without being high in the polls or by doing or saying things that are inflammatory, as Trump makes a habit of doing.

    So at a house party in the backyard of a retired military couple, Fiorina lamented her circumstances, allowing her usually upbeat veneer to slip for a moment.

    “Sometimes I have to tell you, honestly it’s frustrating. I’ll have people come up and say, ‘I’ve seen you 10 times and I still can’t make up my mind.’

    “It’s like, ‘Come on!’” she said.

    She tried to see the bright side. “But on the other hand, good for you. You’re taking your citizen responsibility seriously,” she added.

    Fiorina, in an interview, held back from criticizing the TV networks for their current debate plans. But she did say that “the media tends to overlook Republican women, conservative women in particular.”

    She didn’t pretend that the debates don’t matter, acknowledging that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to win the nomination without taking part.

    “At some point you have to be in the debates. I mean, whether you have to be in the first one I don’t know,” she said.

    But others spoke openly about how unfortunate it would be if Fiorina were shut out.

    “How strange will it be if the only woman candidate, someone who is really bright and saying and doing all the right things, if she is not on the stage?” said Jamie Burnett, a New Hampshire political consultant who helped organize a letter to Fox News asking the network to change its format.

    “It doesn’t make sense to me,” said Burnett, who is supporting Jeb Bush.

    Paul Clark, a retired Wall Street trader who introduced Fiorina at the house party, said he is working for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie but that he plans to attend and host more events for Fiorina as well.

    “I want to have a woman showcased, and I don’t want her shunted aside. The Republican Party really needs diversity,” Clark said.

    At the house party, Fiorina walked barefoot in the grass, back and forth across the lawn in front of about 100 white folding chairs, most of which were occupied. She had kicked off her heels moments after taking the microphone. “I’m sinking into the lawn,” she said.

    Fiorina launched into her stump speech, an attack on the “professional political class” in Washington that she says stopped long ago looking out for regular Americans and protects only itself. The implication is that her lack of political experience is an asset.

    “The party needs an outsider with business experience,” said Guy Hampton, a FedEx salesman from Portsmouth, after an earlier event. He said he was supporting Fiorina “for sure.”

    Fiorina says she was fired from HP in 2005 because she was a leader who was willing to make tough decisions, and that she made enemies as a result. Lots of politicians “talk a good game,” she likes to say on the stump. But they’re not leaders like she is, Fiorina says.

    The problem is, it’s easy to do just what she says — talk — about going to Washington and shaking things up. But not even Ronald Reagan reduced the size of government. Fiorina acknowledges this (without mentioning Reagan), when she talks about how the government has continued to get bigger over the last several decades.

    Yet over the next month, if Fiorina wants to break through, it may be that she’ll have to rely more on talking, and will have to take a more aggressive tone in going after other Republicans.

    In an interview, she showed a willingness to do so.

    When I asked her about Jeb Bush’s comment that Americans “need to work longer hours,” she blasted Bush with criticism that sounded similar to Democratic attacks.

    “A lot of times politicians will talk about the economy in a way that says to me they don’t really understand how it works. Jeb Bush wouldn’t be the first. He won’t be the last,” Fiorina said.

    However, when asked the same question this past Sunday by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” Fiorina went out of her way to avoid knocking Bush.

    When I asked her what she thought of comments by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in favor of a one-time tax on corporate profits that are parked outside the U.S. to help pay for a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, Fiorina was critical of Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential candidate and one of the Republican leaders in Congress most respected by peers.

    “His comments reveal one of the reasons why people are so frustrated with the professional political class, and this is not a personal comment about Paul Ryan,” Fiorina said. “Why is it that everything important the government has to do needs more money? The government spends tons of money, and yet somehow they don’t have enough money to fix the highways or secure the border or secure the databases at OPM? That’s about a lack of prioritization of how we spend money, and it’s about ineptitude.”

    That may reflect the ire of many voters, but it overlooks the fact that Ryan and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, are working with Democrats on a deal that they hope will lower corporate tax rates and keep more money and jobs in the U.S.

    During her question and answer session at the house party, Fiorina channeled grass-roots distrust of free trade, criticizing the trade deal with Pacific nations pushed by the Obama administration and supported by Republicans in Congress. She opposes the deal, arguing that the process has been too secretive — which is the same reason Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has cited for her opposition.

    Asked by a voter why Republicans are supporting the bill, Fiorina didn’t have an answer.

    “Beats the heck out of me,” she said. Then she speculated that companies that might get benefits from the deal are putting “pressure” on lawmakers.

    As Fiorina makes her pitch to voters, her critique of politicians — that all they do is talk — faces a structural problem. As someone who has never held office, all she herself can do is talk about what she would do; it’s a problem all nonpolitician candidates face.

    Fiorina is smart, articulate and wealthy, and she shows signs of trying to be thoughtful. But being thoughtful can be hard when you’re still figuring out how to be a politician.

    At an event in Salem, inside a sprawling Tuscan Kitchen restaurant, a man was asking Fiorina about the theft of data from the Office of Personnel Management by what are thought to be Chinese hackers. Fiorina talked for a minute or two about the issue, and then the man followed up with a short, blunt second question.

    “Would you retaliate?” he asked.

    Fiorina paused.

    “Um, probably,” she said. And she then spent a few minutes explaining why she had not answered more unequivocally. She knew that even on this small stage, she had probably flunked the voter’s pop quiz.


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  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2012
    With so many Candidates in one race, there has to be some rules or there would be no true debate with umpteen struggling for time. I am not sure that Americans are ready to sit through debate time. The lesson, if no other chances available, when the field reaches 10 declared candidates, "nominations" are closed. That will really establish non-stop politicking!

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