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“A Flagrant Liar For President?”: Darling Fiorina Is Not Only A Relentless Self-Promoter, But Also A Remorseless Liar

We’ve got a new darling in the GOP presidential race: Carly Fiorina!

Being the darling du jour, however, can be dicey — just ask Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two former darlings who are now out of the race, having turned into ugly ducklings by saying stupid things. But Fiorina is smart, sharp witted, and successful. We know this because she and her PR agents constantly tell us it’s so. Be careful about believing anything she says, though, for Darling Fiorina is not only a relentless self-promoter, but also a remorseless liar.

Take her widely hailed performance in the second debate among Republican wannabes, where she touched many viewers with her impassioned and vivid attack on Planned Parenthood. With barely contained outrage, Fiorina described a video that, she said, shows the women’s health organization in a depraved act of peddling body parts of an aborted fetus. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking,” said a stone-faced Fiorina, looking straight into the camera, “while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’”

Oh, the horror, the monstrosity of Planned Parenthood! And how moving it was to see and feel the fury of this candidate for president!

Only … it’s not true. Although she dared the audience, President Obama and Hillary Clinton to go watch it, turns out that there is no such video — no fetus with kicking legs and no demonic Planned Parenthood official luridly preparing to harvest a brain.

So did Fiorina make up this big, nasty lie herself, or did her PR team concoct it as a bit of showbiz drama to burnish her right-wing credentials and advance her political ambition? Or maybe she’s just spreading a malicious lie she was told by some vicious haters of Planned Parenthood. Either way, there’s nothing darling about it, much less presidential.

I remember back in 1992 when the third-party candidate Ross Perot chose Admiral James Stockdale, a complete unknown, to be his presidential running mate. In his first debate, the vice presidential candidate began by asking a question: “Who am I? Why am I here?”

We should be asking the same about Carly, as she has recently surged in the polls of GOP primary voters. Her campaign is positioning her as a no-nonsense, successful corporate chieftain who can run government with businesslike efficiency. During the debate, Fiorina rattled off a list of her accomplishments as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the high-tech conglomerate: “We doubled the size of the company, we quadrupled its topline growth rate, we quadrupled its cash flow, we tripled its rate of innovation,” she declared in PowerPoint style.

Statistics, however, can be a sophisticated way of lying. In fact, the growth she bragged about was mostly the result of her buying Compaq, another computer giant in a merger that proved to be disastrous — in fact, Hewlett-Packard’s profits declined 40 percent in her six years, its stock prices plummeted and she fired 30,000 workers, even saying publicly that their jobs should be shipped overseas. Finally, she was fired.

Before we accept her claim that “running government like a business” would be a positive, note that the narcissistic corporate culture richly rewarded Fiorina for failure. Yes, she was fired, but unlike the thousands of HP employees she dumped, a golden parachute was provided to let her land in luxury — counting severance pay, stock options, and pension, she was given $42 million to go away.

But here she comes again, lacking even one iota of humility. Fiorina is throwing out a blizzard of lies, not only about Planned Parenthood, but also about who she is. She’s the personification of corporate greed and economic inequality, and she’s trying to bamboozle Republicans into thinking she belongs in the White House.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, October 7, 2015

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Planned Parenthood, Women's Health | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Carly Failorina”: HP Employees Won’t Give Carly Fiorina A Dime

The employees at Hewlett-Packard, where Carly Fiorina was CEO for six years, don’t seem interested in seeing their old boss become commander-in-chief.

Of the 302,000 employees at the company, not one has given a reportable amount to help Fiorina fund her 2016 presidential campaign, according to the campaign’s most recent FEC filings, which lists all donations over $200. HP’s corporate leadership also doesn’t seem keen on the idea of Fiorina in the White House. Among the 12-member board of directors, just one, Ann Livermore, has given a donation above that threshold.

Also missing from the donor list are current CEO (and former GOP gubernatorial candidate) Meg Whitman, any members of the senior leadership team, and all but one member of the HP Board during Fiorina’s tenure there from 1999 to 2005. Tom Perkins, a venture capitalist and former board member who voted to fire Fiorina in 2005, has since had a change of heart and donated $25,000 to CARLY for America, the super PAC supporting her.

The lack of early financial support from almost anyone associated with Hewlett-Packard is hard to square with Fiorina’s own description of her achievements there. While she acknowledges the “tough choices” she had to make as CEO, Fiorina aggressively defends her six-year run as a time when she transformed the company from an aging dinosaur into a market leader.

“We doubled the size of the company,” she told the audience at the recent CNN debate. “We quadrupled its topline growth rate. We quadrupled its cash flow. We tripled its rate of innovation.”

But Fiorina failed to explain during the debate that the company doubled in size because she pushed HP to merge with Compaq in 2001. That merger led to a company with two times the revenue, but only half of the value.

Fiorina also laid off 30,000 HP employees, moved thousands of jobs to China and India, and was fired by the board after a period so tumultuous that some disgruntled employees continue to refer to her as “Chainsaw Carly” or “Carly Failorina.” Her severance package was worth an estimated $42 million.

Interviews with HP employees during and after Fiorina’s leadership reveal a deep and simmering well of discontent 10 years after she left the company.

Dean Soderstrom, a sales operations manager at HP from 1999 until his retirement in 2015, said he saw feelings for Fiorina among rank-and-file employees sour quickly after she took over.

“Right from the get-go with Carly, it seemed like it was a two-class company. It was her and the rest of us,” Soderstrom said. “Many of her employees were very disenchanted by her. When she was let go, I think for the right reasons, there was a lot of singing ‘Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.’”

To Soderstrom’s point, Fiorina’s first year at HP not only included an immediate overhaul of the company’s famous corporate culture, widely known in Silicon Valley as “the HP Way,” but also instant celebrity status for Fiorina, who was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company. She appeared on the cover of more than 40 magazine covers in her first year, had her portrait hung in the company’s Palo Alto lobby next to the founders, and bought a Gulfstream IV for her travels. The previous CEO, Lewis Platt, famously flew coach.

“I don’t care if she’s a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. I would not support her for president,” Soderstrom said. “I would not give her two cents.”

Another former employee, who is now a CEO in Silicon Valley, and did not want his name used, said he would never consider supporting Fiorina for president and knows of none of his former co-workers who would. “My thoughts are no employee would donate to her campaign, ever,” he said. “She is a terrible leader, really, really bad. As bad as they come.”

A current employee, who also asked that his name not be used, said he felt HP never recovered from the changes Fiorina made. “HP is still not a happy place to work. It’s pretty much been a disaster for years, but I think Carly set the tone.” The company recently announced another round of 30,000 layoffs and a restructuring that will split the massive company into two smaller units.

Peter Burrows, the author of Backfire: Carly Fiorina’s Battle for the Soul of Hewlett-Packard, who covered Fiorina’s tenure at HP and remains in touch with current employees, said Fiorina started at HP with high hopes among staff that she would change the company, making it more relevant and nimble. Instead, she became the symbol of its demise.

“Everybody at HP knew the company needed to change and she sounded like she had the answers,” Burrows said. “That faded pretty quickly because it became clear that it was not translating into action and it began to seem empty.”

As her time at the company went on, the company’s performance sank, and layoffs were implemented, Burrows said people inside HP and throughout Silicon Valley began to put the blame for the company’s failures on the once high-flying Fiorina, an opinion that persists to this day.

“Most people think that she did not improve the company, that she made the company weaker, that she tore away some of its strengths,” Burrows said. “She had a small but incredibly loyal core group around her, but she lost the vast majority of employees.”

The Fiorina campaign did not respond to several requests for comment on this article.

 

By: Patricia Murphy, The National Memo, September 30, 2015

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, GOP Presidential Candidates, Outsourcing of Jobs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Car-Lying; Carly Fiorina Lies Like A Boss”: Her Meaningless Specifics Are A Marketing Ploy, Not A Policy

The Central Intelligence Agency has some tips for spotting liars. Unfortunately, most of them also sound like stage directions for a GOP primary candidate: “Failing to answer.” “Attacking.” “Denial.” Even, “Bringing up religion.” One particular hint is unusually relevant these days: “Being too specific.”

Carly Fiorina’s continuing distortions about what she saw, or didn’t see, on the Planned Parenthood sting videos would set off alarms all over Langley on all those counts, but it’s her level of primary-color, pointillist embroidery on the truth—in that and other instances—that truly sets her apart from the rest of the field.

Call it Car-lying. Describing things into reality is a trademark of Fiorina’s, a style of mendacity that sets her apart from career politicians. Indeed, the reason she doesn’t come off as a politician is she’s still in marketing.

At Hewlett-Packard, employees said she “embellished” the company’s “future products, strategy and even history,” adding a fictitious personal visit from Walt Disney to the true story about Disney Studios being an early client. She was brought into HP to be brash and exciting, to “drive a stake through” the “community-minded” and “collaborative” “pocket-protector paradise” of cautious expansion that existed before she got there. And she did! The Compaq merger that defined her unsteady tenure was a function of her own salesmanship: “The moxie to risk shareholders’ money on a huge acquisition… exceeds the courage of most mortals,” as one more positive assessment put it. Or, put another way: “Fiorina had one significant weakness as chief executive: she just wasn’t very good at running the business.”

Perhaps the best example of Fiorina’s cynical hucksterism is her brief stint as a consultant to the very agency that might have seen through her: the CIA. Then-Director Michael Hayden asked her to serve on a board charged with helping the agency navigate “demands for greater public accountability and openness.” Her advice? Don’t stop doing the stuff that make people want to hold you accountable—mass surveillance or torture—just make people think you’re being accountable. Or, as she recommended: “be very creative about [being] transparent.”

Indeed, exuberant chicanery may be the only crossover skill Fiorina can bring to her campaign from the business world. She managed the business side of her last campaign about as successfully as she did HP, which is to say: Not only did she lose, but by paying off her self-funded loan to the campaign first, she got a golden parachute and her employees got the shaft.

Fiorina does more than tell the “big lie,” she tells a big lie of a thousand parts, throwing placeholder disinformation at her interrogators with such practiced cool that observers just assume she must know what she’s talking about. Hence the soup of numbers in her military requisition demands at the last debate: “50 Army brigades,” “36 Marine battalions,” “350 naval ships.”

Fiorina’s numbers came from a Heritage Foundation study—though not one that has anything to do with the question on the table, which at least began with “Have you met Vladimir Putin?” and drifted more fuzzily into “the military issue.” Heritage’s alarmist report is a faux-empirical “readiness” index, designed to either estimate the U.S.’s ability to conduct two simultaneous, conventional regional wars or goose defense spending (maybe both!); but it’s not an actual plan for a real-world military engagement. Do you think River City would have bought the con if it had been “a lot” and not 76 trombones leading the big parade?

Pressed by Chuck Todd on her Planned Parenthood video lies, Fiorina didn’t just repeat that she had seen something that does not exist, she accused the organization of something that the “sting” video’s makers hadn’t: “Planned Parenthood is aborting fetuses alive to harvest their brains and other body parts. That is a fact.” To be clear, with this statement, Fiorina isn’t just repeating a mischaracterization she already told (that Planned Parenthood “harvests” organs that are intact after an abortion). Rather, she is saying that Planned Parenthood aborts fetuses alive, for the purpose of harvesting their intact organs. She added, “Planned Parenthood will not and cannot deny this because it is happening.”

That last bit is a hoary nugget of rhetorical flim-flammery on par with “When did you stop beating your wife?” It tries to reinvent lack of engagement as admission of guilt. Except Planned Parenthood has denied allegations of illegally “harvesting” organs—and six different state investigations (Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and now Missouri) have backed up those denials.

Instructively, what’s disturbing about Fiorina’s falsehoods isn’t that she lied, or even that she seems to believe her own lies. It’s not even, really, that her lies get bigger every time.

No, what should give you pause is that by sheer force of articulated will she has fabricated her own reality, to the point that her Super PAC spliced together a different video to illustrate just what it is she said she saw. Think about it: If Fiorina had stuck to some kind of emotionally-charged but non-specific description of the video, there would be no second round of debate. As it is, Fiorina didn’t just lie—she created a storyboard.

The Super PAC YouTube contribution is as dishonest a use of found footage as any “Paranormal Activity” rip-off, yet somehow her supporters suspend their disbelief. That may be because, unlike fans of direct-to-on-demand ghost stories, Republican primary voters haven’t really seen anything like this before.

Confident generalization is the native language of a Washington professional; studied ambiguity is their background noise. The reason red meat works so well is most political speech is thin gruel. Pat truisms are what make politicians sound like politicians (and parties often indistinguishable from each other): it’s what makes America great, education important, families treasured, and apple pie delicious.

We talk about “dog whistles” because what politicians really mean or really want to communicate is usually cloaked by superficial inoffensiveness and preservation of plausible deniability is the lodestar of any halfway decent flack. Disregard for those conventions on a personal, philosophical level is why the howling, unambiguous racism of Donald Trump and the obvious yet soft-spoken bigotry of Ben Carson have broken through. On policy, however, the only thing that distinguishes their vagueness from career pols is its hilarious blatancy.

By contrast, Fiorina’s brazenly explicit prescriptions are almost pornographic: especially in the sense that what she’s describing is unattainable in real life. People see her steely, echoing assertions as discipline. But she’s not displaying the focus of a real leader—just the conscientiousness of someone who has to keep her lies straight.

 

By: Ana Marie Cox, The Daily Beast, September  29, 2015

October 1, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, GOP Presidential Candidates, Planned Parenthood | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Outsiders Looking In”: Truly Off The Rails, It’s Just A Matter Of Time Before Trump, Fiorina And Carson Fade Away

I get the outsider schtick. America has seen it over the years, but rarely have the American people elected someone who is truly off the rails.

In this field of Republican candidates for president, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are off the rails. Their current polling advantage is due to their outsider persona, no question, but none of them have, to use Richard Ben Cramer’s book title from the 1988 campaign, “What it Takes.”

Wendell Willkie ran as an outsider/insider business guy in 1940 against Franklin Roosevelt. He was an experienced, viable national figure, knowledgeable on the issues, but lost to FDR in his bid for a third term.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was hardly an outsider, though he had never held elective office before. He was an immensely popular general who had helped mastermind D-Day and was courted at times by both political parties.

Jimmy Carter was surely an outside Washington candidate. That did him enormous good in 1976, but he was still an accomplished governor, two term state senator and experienced politician.

Popular General Ulysses S. Grant and experienced government hands William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover were other presidents never to hold elective office, but few questioned their experience or qualifications.

In 2015, you have to ask yourself when examining the candidacies of Trump, Carson and Fiorina whether they are truly presidential. Do they have the temperament, experience, knowledge and understanding of “what it takes” to run for president and be president?

Trump is clearly number one in the off the rails category. Everything is an attack, everything is a show, and everything is about him and his outsized ego. There is no uplifting message of substance, no indication he understands the nation’s problems or is ready to offer any concrete plans to solve them. This is a soap opera on steroids, “Entertainment Tonight” that is rapidly ceasing to be entertaining. It is a candidacy that is no longer, if it ever was, meaningful. Trump has no where to go but down and with each passing day of his antics he drops in the public’s estimation.

Carson is totally out of his league. There is truly no reason for him to be a candidate. He does not understand the issues. He appears not to have read the Constitution on just who can be president or even how the government works. He may understand brain surgery, but he doesn’t have the slightest understanding of basic foreign or domestic policy. His participation in debates and as a candidate subjecting himself to scrutiny will doom any future campaign faster than the Washington Nationals got swept by the New York Mets.

As for Fiorina, she is no wunderkind, as her career at Hewlett-Packard can attest. In fact, most analysts are appalled at her performance. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld pointed out that during her tenure the value of HP fell 55 percent, 30,000 people were laid off, and she invested $25 billion in the dying Compaq computer company. She walked away having made $100 million after her failure and her firing. Not exactly a record to run on.

But, more important, she does not appear to have the leadership skills or the temperament to be a strong leader in the political world. She does study her briefing books, she does prepare for the debates more than some of the others, and she is not shy and not afraid to mix it up. But at the end of the day, she shows her true inexperience by stating that she will refuse to talk to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and shows very little understanding of issues, from Planned Parenthood to Iran.

So my guess is that even though these three have taken the lead in some of the polls they will fade quickly and then we will be back to more serious Republican candidates: Bush, Kasich, Christie, Rubio and Cruz. When voters get serious, Trump, Carson and Fiorina will be the outsiders, looking in, and wondering what hit them.

 

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. Newsa and World Report, September 25, 2015

September 27, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , | 3 Comments

“Carly Fiorina Is The New Mitt Romney”: Fiorina Is About To Get Bained, An Assault She May Not Be Able To Withstand

Carly Fiorina has a Mitt Romney problem.

Fiorina, like Romney, is a wealthy former CEO from an affluent Republican family. Like Romney, she entered the Republican presidential contest assuming that her record running a large company would be one of her greatest assets. But she may be about to learn that her opponents have little trouble turning that record into her greatest liability.

Like Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, the private equity firm at which he oversaw the dismantling of numerous companies purchased by Bain, Fiorina’s record at Hewlett-Packard was notable for the number of workers fired on her watch. Romney’s Republican primary opponents, as well as the Obama campaign, attacked Romney’s record at Bain so aggressively that by the end of the 2012 campaign some people were using Bain as a verb: to destroy a wealthy candidate’s public image by attacking their business record.

Fiorina is about to get Bained. And if history is any guide, it’s an assault she may not be able to withstand.

“When you rise as fast as Fiorina has in the last couple weeks, all your opponents, plus the news media, are gonna pay attention to you,” Newt Gingrich, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2012 and acted as one of Romney’s most prolific critics, told me.

“The upside,” he said, “is now you’re more famous. But when you’re more famous, they come after you.”

Fiorina’s opponents have a lot to work with. Like most politicians, she likes to self-mythologize. Born in Texas in 1954, she says she is from “a modest, middle-class family.” She tends to leave out that her father, Joseph Tyree Sneed III, worked at the Justice Department, including as a deputy attorney general, before President Richard Nixon appointed him to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1973.

Fiorina frequently tells of how she rose “from secretary to CEO” in a way that “is only possible in this nation” because it “proves that every one of us has potential.” In fact, she took the secretary job in between dropping out of law school and moving to Italy with her first husband, who last week emerged from obscurity to brand her as cold and calculating. She later went to business school, and after stints at AT&T and Lucent, in 1999 Fiorina became the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the iconic technology company. She was the first woman in American history to lead a Fortune 100 company.

Her time running Hewlett-Packard was highly controversial. Fiorina deflects criticism of her 5½ years at the helm by noting that the company’s revenue doubled during that time. But, as Bloomberg View’s Justin Fox notes, “that was mainly because she made a gigantic and controversial acquisition.” Fiorina acquired Compaq, a computer manufacturer, for $19 billion in 2002—a move largely received by those within (PDF) and observing HP as unwise. Dell Computer’s Michael Dell called it the “dumbest deal of the decade.” By the time Fiorina was pushed out of HP three years after the Compaq deal, and given a $21 million severance package, HP had laid off 30,000 workers.

Four years later, in the midst of the Great Recession, Fiorina ran for a Senate seat from California. Barbara Boxer, her Democratic opponent, used the HP layoffs and Fiorina’s enormous severance to pillory the former CEO. During a September 2010 debate, Boxer asked if voters really “want to elect someone who made her name as a CEO at Hewlett-Packard, laying thousands and thousands of workers off, shipping their jobs overseas, making no sacrifice while she was doing it, taking $100 million. I don’t think we need those Wall Street values right now.”

Fiorina replied that “when you lead a business, whether it’s a nine-person business or 150,000 people, you sometimes have to make the agonizing choice to lose some jobs to save more.”

Later in the debate, a retired Hewlett-Packard employee named Tom Watson was allowed to ask Fiorina a question. “In a keynote speech in 2004, you said, ‘There’s no job that is America’s God-given right anymore.’ Do you still feel that way? What are your plans to create jobs in California?”

Fiorina didn’t answer directly. She said the loss of American jobs was the fault of the federal government for not incentivizing companies the way that China does with tax holidays and help cutting through regulations. In other words, those 30,000 people were laid off because of Washington, not because of Carly Fiorina.

It didn’t end there. The debate’s host noted that Fiorina had suggested teachers be paid in accordance with their performance. Why then, did Fiorina accept a $21,000,000 severance payment when she was fired from HP? Fiorina’s response wasn’t exactly steely. That was, she explained, what the HP board decided she should get paid.

Boxer needled Fiorina further. “My opponent—we know that she shipped jobs overseas, thousands of them,” she said, “we know that she fired workers, tens of thousands of them.”

Fiorina seemed at a loss for how to defend herself. “I think it’s absolutely a shame that Barbara Boxer would use Hewlett-Packard, a treasure of California, one of the great companies in the world, whose employees work very hard and whose shareholders have benefited greatly from both my time as CEO and all the hard work of the employees, that I had the privilege to lead, I think it’s a shame that she would use that company as a political football,” she said.

A few weeks after the debate, Boxer released an ad titled “Outsourcing,” which slammed Fiorina for the HP layoffs, for “tripling her salary,” buying “a million-dollar yacht” (she has two) for herself and “five corporate jets” for HP. Fiorina’s poll numbers immediately plummeted. In the Democratic wipeout year of 2010, Boxer managed to defeat Fiorina by 10 points.

Fiorina knows similar attacks are coming as she makes a run at the presidency. You could almost see the impending sense of doom on her face during Wednesday night’s Republican debate.

“Ms. Fiorina, you were CEO of Hewlett-Packard,” CNN host Jake Tapper said. “Donald Trump says you, quote, ‘ran HP into the ground,’ you laid off tens of thousands of people, you got viciously fired. For voters looking to somebody with private-sector experience to create American jobs, why should they pick you and not Donald Trump?”

Fiorina’s reply felt lived-in, like she had long ago decided on the proper delivery—almost Carlin-esque, fast-paced and melodic—for such a message. She looked as though she had practiced every syllable and plotted out every point at which she would pause to take a breath.

“I led Hewlett-Packard through a very difficult time,” she said, “the worst technology recession in 25 years.” Despite the circumstances, she said, she led the company to success. She rattled off her supposed accomplishments: “We doubled the size of the company, we quadrupled its top-line growth rate, we quadrupled its cash flow, we tripled its rate of innovation.”

Donald Trump looked on, smirking and rolling his eyes with meme-worthy animation.

“Yes, we had to make tough choices,” she said. But, she said, firing thousands of people actually “saved 80,000 jobs,” which led to the growth of “160,000 jobs.” And how dare Trump of all people make such a criticism, Fiorina said, since “you ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people’s money and you were forced to file for bankruptcy not once, not twice, four times. A record four times. Why should we trust you to manage the finances of this nation any differently than you managed the finances of your casinos?”

Fiorina’s defense of her time at HP was a minor blip in her debate performance, which saw her bash Trump for his recent attack on her looks and open up about losing her stepdaughter to drug addiction.

She received rave reviews from the media and vaulted up in the polls from 3 percent at the beginning of the month to 14 percent in a CNN/ORC poll released Sunday. Fiorina’s rise coincides with the first signs of Trump’s decline. Though still in the lead, Trump fell from 32 percent to 24 percent in the CNN poll.

Fiorina is, understandably, feeling optimistic. Asked if she would like to speak with me for this story, Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager, Sarah Isgur Flores, emailed, “I’m swamped today. But I’m sure it’ll be good without me :)”

As the emerging candidate of the moment, Fiorina should expect the coming Bain-like attacks on her record will intensify perhaps beyond even what she experienced in 2010. In The Gamble, a data-driven analysis of the 2012 election, political scientists John Sides and Lynn Vavreck argue that although “the polls seemed almost random” in the Republican primary, “there was an underlying logic at work.” That logic, according to Sides and Vavreck, can be described as “discovery, scrutiny, and decline.”

When a candidate does something to capture the public’s attention—getting into the race at all, in the case for Trump, or delivering a breakout debate performance, for Fiorina—the “discovery” of the candidate results in an increase in media attention, which in turn results in a surge in the polls. But with increased attention comes increased scrutiny from both the media and primary opponents and the barrage of negative information reliably results in an “irreversible decline in both news coverage and poll numbers.”

Sides told me that “Fiorina is a textbook case of discovery. For months, her candidacy received limited media attention. Then, thanks to Trump’s comments and last week’s debate, she received much more coverage, and her poll numbers responded accordingly.”

Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich all experienced these cycles in 2012. Only Romney survived. Sides and Vavreck write that Romney had the advantage of a well-run organization and fundraising operation, more support from Republican leaders than other candidates, and the good fortune of being “the most popular candidate among the largest factions in the party, which tend not to be the most conservative factions.”

But the anti-Bain attacks, launched by Gingrich and others during the primary, left Romney vulnerable in the general election. There was an incessant drip-drip of negative information about Romney’s immense personal wealth and his time at Bain Capital released by his Republican rivals that enabled Democrats to latch onto the narrative of Mitt-the-jobs-destroyer so easily.

The most memorable of these assaults came from Winning Our Future, an “independent expenditure-only committee” supporting Gingrich’s campaign that distributed When Mitt Romney Came to Town, a 28-minute attack documentary that felt like a cross between an episode of American Greed and a Michael Moore documentary. The movie accused Romney of everything from “stripping American businesses of assets, selling everything to the highest bidder and often killing jobs for big financial rewards” to “contributing to the greatest American job loss since World War II.” Devastatingly, it featured interviews with real people (some of whom had no idea they were being interviewed for an attack ad against Romney) who described in painstaking detail the misery of losing their jobs as a result of Bain Capital’s actions.

“We thought that it was a legitimate question to raise and also that it was something that Barack Obama was going to raise, which of course he did,” Gingrich told The Daily Beast. “I think it’s the same thing as attacking me for my record as speaker,” he said. Which is to say, Gingrich thinks any candidate’s history is fair game.

“Anybody at this point is going to have a record in their career or they wouldn’t have gotten here. So, it’s fair to go after Trump for his business record. It’s fair to go after Carly for hers. It’s fair to go after Jeb for his governor’s record. If you’re gonna run for president you’d better expect that you’re gonna be thoroughly challenged—and you should be! We give presidents of the United States an enormous amount of power and whoever wins that office should be thoroughly tested.”

Asked how he would run against Fiorina were he in this Republican primary, Gingrich said, “I have no idea. I have been so confused by this primary season so far.”

When it came time for the general election, branding Romney as an out-of-touch, car-elevator-riding bully-of-the-working-class proved an easy task for Democrats. All the work had already been done for them by Gingrich & Co.

Will Fiorina ever make it that far? It’s at best a longshot.

She has all of the downside of being a wealthy and controversial former CEO like Romney, but none of the benefit—the establishment support, the fundraising operation, the organization, or the four years as governor of Massachusetts—that insulated him against the “discovery, scrutiny and decline” pinball machine and helped him win the primary.

“She’s smart, Fiorina knows this is coming and she knows exactly what it’s gonna be like, because she’s already lived through it once,” Gingrich said. “My guess is that she must believe that she has a stronger, more convincing answer than she had in the Senate race in 2010.”

It’s true that Fiorina may now be a better prepared and more polished candidate than she was when she last ran for office, but the substance of her answers to questions about HP hasn’t changed much at all.

But to hear Gingrich tell it, when you’re the longshot who is suddenly surging, that doesn’t really matter. “I’m sure it’s more fun to be one of the top two or three candidates and have to defend yourself than to be in the bottom tier and have nobody paying any attention to you,” he told me.

And isn’t that what a presidential campaign is really about?

 

By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, September 22, 2015

September 24, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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