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November 25th, 2017

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Four Things To Expect From Carly Fiorina, Between Now And The Next GOP Debate

Bill Whalen

By Bill Whalen

Published Sept.24, 2015

In the politics of the Information Age, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Carly Fiorina's strong debate performance at the CNN debate is the stuff of instant gratification.

There's this CNN/ORC national poll showing the former Hewlett-Packard CEO with 15% of the GOP pie — five times what she drew in August. A Voter Gravity poll released Friday had Fiorina ahead of the pack in New Hampshire.

Even if, technically, she's not the Republican frontrunner (Donald Trump led the way in the national survey with 24% (that's down 8% from August), Fiorina's surge and second-place standing granted her top-tier treatment on Sunday — e.g., a leadoff interview on Fox News Sunday.

Where does Fiorina's campaign go from here?

There's not another Republican debate for another five weeks (Oct. 28 at the University of Colorado — CNBC doing the honors), Fiorina has to bide her time before a chance to shine a third consecutive time in a candidates' forum.

Meanwhile, I'm looking for these four things to affect her candidacy:

1) The Media Parsing Words, Vetting the Record. I encourage you to check out Chris Wallace's grilling of Fiorina on his Sunday morning show. Wallace went after her on: 1) the accuracy of her in-debate description of the Planned Parenthood videotape; 2) her overall record as H-P chair; 3) her knowledge that an H-P intermediary sold her company's product to Iran, in violation of U.S. trade sanctions. Expect more of this in the weeks ahead — the press vetting her record; for some reporters, the suggestion that she's something of a serial exaggerator. It's what the political media do: build up a candidate, then tear down said candidacy.

2) Conservatives Questioning Her Integrity/Purity. If you have the time and the stomach, surf for Fiorina references on FreeRepublic.com. You'll find stores posted from back in 2010, when Fiorina was a first-time candidate for the U.S. Senate — a race she lost to California Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Also, stories that question her conservative bona fides and likeability. Among the stories I came across: Fiorina citing her work with Jesse Jackson; Fiorina taking four years to pay off her Senate campaign debt; Fiorina, in 2010, taking a swipe at her opponent's hairstyle; an endorsement from conservative bęte noire Meghan McCain; how Fiorina's business savvy failed her as a Senate candidate. Add the posts where Rush Limbaugh insists that Fiorina's rise isn't genuine — the media playing her up only to tear down Trump — and it's clear there are some conservative trolls out there who really don't like the thought of Fiorina as the non-politician standard-bearer.

3) How Hard She Pushes the GOP Establishment. During the Wallace interview, Fiorina defended the notion of a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding. She's also suggested that House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should surrender their leadership posts if they "don't produce results".

Watch for this divide in the GOP field in the coming weeks — the candidates' willingness to throw the Republican Congress under the bus regarding budget and debt-ceiling drama, and which camp Fiorina chooses. Is she hard-core anti-Washington, more accommodating than Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with regard to the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill — or something in between?

4) Building Her Argument By Building Her Portfolio. On Saturday, Fiorina took part in the "Take America Back" cattle call in Greenville, S.C. On Tuesday, she's scheduled to attend a national security forum at The Citadel in Charleston. Over the next month, Fiorina won't lack for chances to draw cameras and offer her thoughts. The question is: will she add more policy heft to a campaign that so far has been largely defined by her unbridled disdain for Hillary Clinton?

Figure it another way: though the candidates were on the stage for the better part of three hours debate night, it was a shallow policy debate. CNN saw to that by running a show that, even Donald Trump had to admit, was too much Trump. CNBC probably won't tolerate much in the way of spit-balling. Expect the candidates to be put through their paces on the economy, taxes, trade, the Fed, the markets, and foreign policy.

The good new for Carly: she has five weeks to prepare for her next test. As we've learned, the lady does her homework.

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Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he studies and writes on current events and political trends. In citing Whalen as one of its "top-ten" political reporters, The 1992 Media Guide said of his work: “The New York Times could trade six of its political writers for Whalen and still get a bargain.” During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.

Reprinted from Forbes.com

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