The newest biggest star in the GOP sky is Carly Fiorina. She joined me today for an extended conversation about the new attention she is enjoying and her rival for the nomination Donald Trump:
HH: The winner in everyone’s minds of the first debate, the second debate, the weekend, just everything is Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and candidate for the presidency. She joins me now. Carly, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you.
CF: Thank you so much for having me, Hugh.
HH: I am curious how you prepared for the debate.
CF: Well, I spent some time with my staff thinking about the kinds of questions that might get asked. I spent time thinking carefully about what I really wanted to communicate, what I wanted to convey to people about myself, and what I would do, because as I think you and I talked about, going into that debate, only 39% of Republican voters had ever heard my name. I had the lowest name ID of anyone running, and so this was an opportunity, among other things, to introduce myself. And so I needed to be thoughtful about what do I convey in a limited period of time so that people are better acquainted with who I am and what I have done, and more importantly, what I will do as president of the United States.
HH: Now I want to talk to you about the controversy with Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly, but first, in the first debate, a moment came, which as you mentioned, you had lost a daughter to the demons of addiction. And the moderators did not stop and say whoa, what’s that all about. Now I know the story, but I also know that 24 million Americans watching, not many of them do. What is that story, Carly Fiorina, because I think it’s important for people to understand who you are.
CF: Well, our younger daughter, Lori, struggled with addictions for a good portion of her life. She lost her life in her early 30s. She lost the battle, as so many addicts do. And as is true with so many, it started out with, you know, too much booze, probably, and moved into prescription drugs. And it’s a tragedy when someone has that struggle. And like so many parents and families who deal with this, and I meet them all the time on the campaign trail, I meet them all the time, like so many families who struggle with this, you do the best you can to get someone who needs help to help. And mercifully, sometimes that works. And tragically, in many cases, it does not. And in Lori’s case, it did not. And it is why I feel strongly that we need criminal justice reform, among other things, because we have so many people incarcerated who are struggling, really, with addictions and not getting the treatment they need. And it’s why I feel strongly that we need to be investing in mental health, which includes addictions, but is obviously far broader than that. We need to be investing differently in the treatment of mental health.
HH: Let me ask you as well, I’ve asked all the candidates who have come on about the drug laws in Colorado and Washington State, soon in Alaska, and whether they would use the federal authority to shut down the pot experimenting states. What’s Carly Fiorina think about those states and their option to, in effect, legalize marijuana?
CF: Well, I am against it, however I do accept, for now, the voters’ right to make that decision. But I don’t agree with it fundamentally, because I think we are misleading people in a very serious way, misleading them in this sense. The marijuana of today, I know this having survived cancer, you know, I was asked when I was going through chemotherapy and cancer treatments whether I wanted to try medicinal marijuana. I said I did not. And my doctor’s response was we’re very glad, because marijuana today is a very chemically complex compound. Doctors don’t really know what’s in it. They don’t know how it reacts with other things, and therefore, when we tell young people that smoking a joint is like drinking a beer, we’re not telling them the truth. There’s no doubt it’s a gateway drug for some people. And there is no doubt that if it’s a medicine, fine. Regulate it like a medicine. But don’t say to people, you know, this is just a good time like a can of beer. It’s not true.
HH: And when we come back in the next segment, I may ask you about the federal authority, because Chris Christie has said, and I believe Rubio with him, that he would tell the federal Department of Justice to bring the hammer down on Colorado and Washington State, but that’s for after the break. Don’t go anywhere, the winner of the weekend is what I’m calling Carly Fiorina, www.carlyforamerica.com.
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HH: I first met Carly Fiorina at an election event in Colorado. We did another one in Kentucky, which I’m about to talk about, for Mitch McConnell in just a moment. But everyone wants to know before I do any of that, Carly, your reaction to the Trump-Megyn Kelly-Carly Fiorina saga. You got hit with a tweet on the fly when I was flying last night. You know, one came flying out of the internet directed at you. How stands Fiorina-Trump? I think we’re going to start putting a subtitle beneath the debate on September the 16th that I’m asking questions at – Trump meets Fiorina for the first time, you know, to build audience.
CF: Well, look, presidential campaigns reveal character over time and under pressure. That’s what they’re for. And I think the American people are seeing candidates over time and under pressure. My point has been to Mr. Trump, or anyone else, insulting people isn’t helpful. So by the way, I’ve been equally critical when President Obama insults all Republicans who disagree with him on the Iranian deal, and now a couple of Democrats as well, by saying that they’re just as bad as Iranians hardliners chanting death to America. When we start insulting people personally, painting with a broad brush anyone who does that, whether they’re a candidate or a holder of elective office, it’s not just that they’re cheapening our political discourse. They are. It’s not that they’re just making it harder for us to solve problems. They are. But also, they are revealing their own character over time.
HH: Now you and I, we know that part of the Donald’s appeal comes from people who are just angry at Washington, D.C. You and I went down to Kentucky to campaign for Mitch McConnell, because we wanted to get a Senate majority to get stuff done. And so we went to the heart of establishment Republicanism, and with Bobby Jindal, campaigned with the leader, and glad he won, and I think he’s a good man. What do you think of the anger that is directed at the leadership both in the senate, and especially Speaker Boehner?
CF: Well, I think the anger is completely understandable. The frustration is completely understandable. And I share that frustration, because people, to your point, Hugh, people worked incredibly hard, not just you and I, but tens of thousands of activists worked really hard to finally put us in a position where we not only had a historic majority in the House, but where we finally had a majority in the Senate. And change was promised, and people don’t see change. And so I think now, you know, it’s a leader’s job to produce results. And so I think the leadership in both the Senate and the House need to start producing results.
CF: Well, or if leaders don’t produce results, they need to step aside. And I’m prepared to give them a little time to produce results, but they need to produce them. And you know, we have this issue sitting in front right now. I mean, it started with the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection act, which was inexplicably pulled from the House floor way back in February. It shouldn’t have been. This is great politics as well as great policy. The majority of the American people support it. And now we have these Planned Parenthood videos, and I think what the Planned Parenthood videos represent is a window of opportunity to have a different conversation with the American people about the character of our nation. And so I hope the leadership will take advantage of this window of opportunity.
HH: Right. Now let me switch back to the Donald for a moment. He is reported to be considering taking the pledge that he will support the nominee. I want to ask Carly Fiorina. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, will you support him for president?
CF: I will support our nominee. I will support your nominee.
HH: And that includes Donald despite your disagreements to this point?
CF: If the voters decide that Donald Trump is our nominee, then I will support our nominee.
HH: And do you think everyone should make that pledge?
CF: Absolutely. If you’re going to run as a Republican in a primary, then you need to be clear that you are actually a Republican. And if you’re actually a Republican, then uniting the party after a nomination contest, so that we can beat our opponent, is the most important thing, not your personal disappointment over losing a contest.
HH: Then let me turn to this. The New York Times had a piece on Hillary Clinton’s server. She destroyed 31,600 emails. That’s not an 18 minute gap. Even if it only takes 20 seconds to read an email, that’s an 18,000 minute gap. Only you and Scott Walker brought up the server. Scott Walker got the Ahab Award for putting the first harpoon in the server in the debate, and I’m congratulating him for that, because it ought to be front and center. Why are our team so afraid to bring up the fact that she destroyed 31,600 emails?
CF: I have no idea. And you know, Hugh, as you know, I have been on Mrs. Clinton and on this issue since long before I announced my candidacy, but certainly since I became a candidate for the president of the United States. You will recall that in my closing statement on Thursday night’s debate, I began with the words Mrs. Clinton lies about Benghazi, about her emails, about her server. I have been criticized for saying she lies, but factually, she has lied about these issues. And 31,600 emails, you know, it strains credulity to think they’re all about yoga and her daughter’s wedding, especially when we now know that Bill Clinton has sent, according to him, about one email in his life.
HH: And so the reluctance in the Republicans to go after her, I am exempting you and Scott Walker from that. From what does that come?
CF: I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s because people are focused on each other in a primary contest instead of the ultimate opponent. I think that’s a shame, honestly. I don’t know where that comes from. I truly don’t.
HH: I’m asking questions in the next debate. I’m focused on the ultimate opponent, and if you have suggestions on how people should respond to that, by all means, send them to me. It doesn’t guarantee I will go with those questions, but I don’t understand not focusing on the ultimate opponent.
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HH: I’m going to take the opportunity to go a little bit longer with Carly Fiorina and ask her a couple of the other questions. Carly, we have eight minutes here, and I want people to get the bio, which they have heard if they have heard you on my show before. But I get new affiliates every single week. Would you walk them through your life story, because you got a minute last Thursday as opposed to three or four to introduce yourself.
CF: Well, thanks so much, Hugh, for that opportunity. I was raised in a family where my father and mother spent a great deal of time telling all of their children, me included, that each of us have gifts. My mother’s way of saying it was what you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God. I learned conservatism at my father’s knee, literally, watching him watch the news every night.
HH: Where were you raised?
CF: But for my, we moved around a lot. I was born in Texas, and I went to school before I got into college in Texas, New York, Connecticut, California and North Carolina, England and Africa.
HH: Wow, okay.
CF: So I moved around a lot, and ended up going to Stanford University. But my parents put incredible emphasis on hard work, a good education, integrity, character and making the most of who you are. And that was a great legacy that they left me. I graduated with a degree in medieval history and philosophy from Stanford University, so I was totally unemployable, tried out law school, hated it, quit after a semester, and went back to work doing full time what I had done part time to put myself through college. I was what was called a Kelly girl. We were temporary office personnel. So I got a full time job at a nine person real estate firm, typing and filing and answering the phones. And it was in that job that I was introduced to business, to men in that office, took an interest in me and saw potential in me, and kind of got me interested in business. I would go on and get an MBA and start out as an entry level salesperson at AT&T when it was a million employees, the Bell system. That is where I met my husband, Frank, 34 years ago. He brought with him two little girls, Tracy and Lori. We talked about Lori earlier. We’ve been married 30 years. And from AT&T, I would rise in that company, and ultimately lead the spin-out of their technology business, and go on to become the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.
HH: That spinoff was Lucent, was it not?
CF: That’s right, Lucent Technologies.
HH: Very successful company, and that brought you into the realm of publicly-traded companies. And I want to emphasize to people that requires you to live under a microscope, does it not?
CF: Yes. To be the chief executive of a publicly-traded company requires you to every 90 days submit for anyone’s perusal complete results of your company. And what I mean when I say complete results is really excruciating detail of what you have produced, excruciating detail as well about how you think about the risks that your business faces, the strategy that you intend to employ to face those challenges, and indeed a chief executive is held accountable for every word they publicly say about the results for which they are accountable. It is a very high standard. And honestly, I think maybe politics would be better if we held politicians accountable for the words they say or the results they produce or fail to produce.
HH: From Lucent to Hewlett-Packard, one of the storied American companies. And every time you’re on the show, like clockwork, Carly Fiorina, I will get emails from people who are mad at you about what happened at HP and slagging you for your performance there. What happened at HP? Why did you and the board part company eventually?
CF: Well you know, when I went to Hewlett-Packard, it was the peak of the dot com boom. And six months later, it was the dot com crash. Very soon thereafter came 9/11, and the worst technology recession in 25 years. It was a very tough time in technology. And in fact, many of the companies that were riding high when I arrived at Hewlett-Packard disappeared under the weight of that set of challenges – Sun Microsystems, Gateway, a whole host of companies just disappeared. We needed to make tough calls, and I understand if people lost their jobs in that deep technology recession, I understand why they’re angry. And yet in tough times, a leader needs to make, sometimes, tough calls. We needed to save a business. And by making some tough calls, we saved 80,000 jobs. The company now has 300,000 employees, and importantly, we took the company, despite those tough times, from lagging behind in every product assessment in every market to leading in every product in every market. We doubled its size to almost $90 billion. We quadrupled its growth rate. We tripled innovation to between 11 and 15 patents a day, depending on the time period you’re looking at. In other words, we took a company that was failing and turned it into a company that was leading and succeeding. And in the end, that is the only way you can guarantee a job for anyone, is to ride through the tough times and come out on the other end stronger. And I think…
HH: And why did the board ask you to leave?
CF: Oh, well, we had a big fight in the boardroom. You know, we had, and I’ve been very up front about this from the day I was fired. I was fired in a boardroom brawl. And the reason, ultimately, is because I made enemies. You know what? It’s what leaders do when they challenge the status quo. And you cannot successfully change anything, whether it is a company or whether it is the status quo of Washington, D.C. without the kind of leadership that makes enemies. And so I had board members who were leaking confidential information, and I said hey, it’s you go or I go. Interesting who called me the day I got fired – Steve Jobs, a good friend of mine, who also was fired twice. And if you look at the kinds of people who have been fired – Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Mike Bloomberg, these are people who led, who challenged the status quo, who did things that needed to be done, but that not everyone had the courage to do. I think it is the kind of leadership now we need for this nation.
HH: It’s going to be a fascinating conversation between you and Donald Trump. I hope you’re standing right next to each other at the Reagan Library, and I’ll just say, introduce you two and you can touch gloves and go at it. Carly Fiorina, let me ask you, thought, you went from being quixotic to interesting to provocative to maybe. All of a sudden, you’re on the big stage, and people are actually thinking about someone who has never own a political office. You ran a game campaign in deep blue California, and it’s not really a mark against you that you lost any more than it’s a mark in Hillary’s favor that she won in deep blue New York. It’s the same thing. You know, you run in a deep blue state, you’re a Democrat, you win. You’re a Republican, you lose. But now, you might actually end up either nominated by the party in Cleveland or the vice presidential nomination. Are you finding this dizzying?
CF: No. I find it humbling, but I do not find it dizzying. And I say that, honestly, Hugh, because I’ve thought a lot about this. I didn’t run for president as a hobby. I didn’t, I’m not running for president to do something else or to be something else. I’m running for president because I believe this nation is at a pivotal time. I’m running for president because I think we need a different kind of leadership now. I am very sincere when I say I believe we need a president who understands the economy, how the world works, who’s in it. She must understand bureaucracies, how to cut them down to size and hold them accountable. She must understand technology. She must understand leadership. She must have a track record of standing up to make the tough calls, and being willing to be held accountable for those.
HH: Can you deal with Putin
CF: Our was intended…I’m sorry
HH: Can you deal with Putin?
CF: Of course. I have. I’ve met him. Look, Putin is a man who lusts after power, and he will keep going until he senses strength and resolve on the other side. You know, there’s that old saying about how the Russians trained their soldiers to use a bayonet. You know, as long as you feel mush, keep pressing forward. When you hit steel, stop. It is why I actually wouldn’t talk to Putin at all. We’ve talked way too much to him. All we do is build him up when we talk to him. But I would rebuild the 6th Fleet. I would rebuilt the missile defense program in Poland. I would move troops in and out of the Baltic states on a regular basis. I would stand up with the Ukrainians. President Putin is not scary as long as we are prepared to show him leadership and resolve. I am, and it is what he must see. By the way, the entire world needs to see that the United States of America is back in the leadership business.
HH: Carly Fiorina, thanks for so much time. www.carlyforamerica.com, the new Iron Lady. We will find out at the Reagan Library on the 16th. Carly Fiorina, thank you.
End of interview.