HH: So pleased that Carly Fiorina, former chairman of Hewlett-Packard, candidate for the presidency of the United States, happened to be in the Big Apple when I was here. Someone told me that at my hotel, and of course, I called her wonderful coms director, Sarah, and said can we get her to swing by the Empire State Building, and the answer was yes. Carly Fiorina, welcome to Mike Gallagher’s studio, which I’m borrowing.
CF: Thank you. It’s so great to be with you. And what a great studio, what a great view I have here of the Freedom Tower, it’s awesome.
HH: I hadn’t even noticed that the Freedom Tower was out that window, because I’ve been coming back and forth. I’m on a book tour for The Queen, and so I haven’t even bothered to take in the view. And you haven’t seen it from this view before?
CF: I have not. It’s wonderful.
HH: Terrific. Carly Fiorina, I want to start by diving right in. I was on Morning Joe this morning with David Axelrod, and I was on Meet the Press on Sunday with the former White House Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, talking about Hillary’s server in both places. And I want to play for you the exchange, and then get you reaction to who knew what about Hillary’s server.
JS: For Mika especially, the key crossing of the line was the scrubbing of the server. And Mika’s indignant that the media just doesn’t seem to stay after that. And I guess the question is…
HH: You are right. On Meet the Press on Sunday, when Chuck gave me the chance to ask Bill Daley a question, the former chief of staff, one question, I said were you aware there was a server in the former Secretary of State’s house, and would you have ordered it removed if it was. And he said I had no idea. Well, that is an admission against interest that will figure greatly. It is a national security issue, not a political issue, not a vanity issue. I talked to a very senior former member of the Agency who said every one of America’s foreign enemies have everything on that server. They would be guilty of malpractice if they didn’t. And I think that issue will arise. And the Blumenthal deposition yesterday, I’m sure it came up.
MB: David, what do you think of that? And what do you think about Bill Daley not knowing about the server? Is that unusual? Is that an issue?
DA: Well, I think it is unusual. He was the chief of staff. I confess I didn’t, you know, I was there. I was a senior advisor. I didn’t know that as well.
MB: So if you did find out while you there…
DA: The question is…
MB: If you did find out when you were there, would you say hey, whoa, wait a minute, guys, should we all talk about this? Would you have flagged it?
DA: I might have asked a few questions about that. You know, look, I don’t think, again, the question is what do people, what are people focused on, what do they are about? They care about their lives. They care about being able to meet their bills…
HH: And so, let me break in here. Carly Fiorina, David Axelrod quite nimbly moved it away from the server, as did Bill Daley to me. He said we’re beyond that. We’ve moved beyond that. What do you make of the chief of staff not knowing and the senior advisor to the President not knowing? They’re both on the record now as not knowing that server was there.
CF: Well, I’m not surprised they didn’t know. I think it was probably the strategy to have as few people know as possible. I also think that as we learn more and more about this data breach from the Chinese at the Office of Personnel Management, it is beyond belief that the server has not been hacked. Of course, it’s been hacked.
HH: That was told to me by a senior former operator in the CIA, and Mike Morell said on the record to me yes, everyone, he’s worried that it was monitored. And yet, the issue doesn’t seem to resonate. You talk about it a lot, and I talk about it as a national security issue. You know, she scrubbed it down, but it didn’t scrub down what our enemies have.
CF: Well, I do think that the fact that a majority of Americans now consider her untrustworthy means there’s some drip, drip, drip of this into the American consciousness. I do think that she and David Axelrod, apparently, in his comments are counting on the fact that most Americans aren’t paying that much attention to the elections, yet. And I think it reconfirms that when the general election rolls around, we’d better have a nominee who will ask these questions over and over and over again on a general election debate stage, and everywhere else, to make sure that these questions get asked. I can remember, Hugh, if you’ll bear with me here, I can remember being on the set of Meet the Press and saying to David Gregory at the time Benghazi is a really big deal. It’s not going to go away. You guys should be paying more attention to it. And his answer to me was only if your nominee will bring it up and keep bringing it up. It is kind of how the media operates, sometimes. So…
HH: And that’s what Bill Daley tried to do, the classic Clinton, we’ve moved beyond that. Well, I haven’t moved beyond it, because the PRC and the Russians and the Norks and the Iranians are not moving beyond whatever they learned about Hillary from her server. And if we had four years of Carly Fiorina’s emails, private, public, business, whatever, we’d know a lot more about Carly Fiorina. I’m not suggesting you disclose them, but we would know a lot more about you, correct?
CF: Well, yes at some level, although I’ve been pretty transparent about sort of everything in my life, from my financials to my personal health to the death of a daughter to my departure from HP. I think what’s especially troubling about Hillary Clinton is there is so much we don’t know throughout her entire life. There’s so much we don’t know about a whole set of things. Who are these foreign governments providing donations? What was the conflict of interest? Why didn’t they consider it a problem? I mean, it’s just one question after another, and it’s always been this way.
HH: Now let me talk about the Sidney Blumenthal story with you, because the President is the President. His chief of staff does not know that Hillary has a server, and I assume thus does not know that Sid Vicious is running his own private intelligence scam advising her. And David Axelrod doesn’t know about this. So Hillary was running her own government within a government. Now if you had been the CEO of HP, and your COO, chief operating officer for the benefit of the Steelers fans, was running their own operations, what would you think about that?
CF: Well, you would fix it. You would change it. You would say sorry, you don’t get private servers under your desk or in your basement or all the rest of it. And you know, the more we learn, Hugh, the more it doesn’t add up. How is it, for example, that no one knew about the server, and yet, according to Hillary Clinton, they had two Secret Service agents guarding it?
CF: I mean, what did they say they were doing? I don’t know.
HH: But this would require the former Secretary of State to answer questions. She took three questions in South Carolina today from citizens, not from journalists. I’m so glad when my book, the Queen, launched, she’s acting just like a queen, Carly Fiorina. She is helping my book more than anyone possibly could. But can it be sustained? And that is what we talked about on Morning Joe, what I talked about at Huffington Post today. Can you sustain an above-it-all campaign if you’re Hillary Clinton for 16 months?
CF: Time will tell. I think she will be the nominee of her party. I think Democrats will line up behind her. I think in the end, we’re going to defeat her not by denying her the nomination, which Republicans can’t do. We’re going to defeat her by having the right nominee go up against her day after day after day in a general election.
HH: She is the prohibitive favorite. I was on Adam Carolla’s show on Thursday, and the folks at the RNC called me up and said why did you say Hillary is going to win? And I said because the Irish bookies have got her at 10-11, they’ve got Jeb Bush at 7-2. You, by the way, are at 33-1. They’ve got Marco Rubio at 7-2, so they’re just bookies, right? They’re not in this. They don’t care who wins. They’re making money. They don’t give a lick about it. Why is she that prohibitively the favorite?
CF: Because here’s what we should not underestimate about her. She will have more money than anyone. She will have the best ground game in political history thanks to Obama running twice. And she has, for better or for worse, with enthusiasm or not, the loyalty of the Democrat Party. That’s a lot. That is not to be underestimated. And as the conversation we’ve just had demonstrates, she doesn’t have a media that really is willing to go after this stuff.
HH: Not yet. I’m hoping that the Queen and others turn it around. Tell me about your reception in New York. Carly Fiorina has to come to New York to raise money, obviously. That’s where the money is. You’ve got to go where the money is. That’s why you rob banks, they used to say in the old days. How is it in New York?
CF: It’s very good. We’ve had a number of really good fundraisers here. You also come to New York for media. And earned media is very important for me, because I don’t have the same name ID as others. That’s why I go on shows like The View, which is actually quite fun.
HH: How’d that go? Was it fun?
CF: It was actually quite fun, and the New York Times wrote a very complimentary and helpful article about my arrival on The View. So I guess they’re not used to having real conservatives all that often.
HH: You’ve turned the paradigm upside down, and I wrote in The Queen, you’ll see I wrote this six months ago. I said don’t respond to Carly Fiorina, Hillary Clinton, because she can’t be the nominee. I would rewrite that chapter now if I could, because I think you’ve made such a dent, and at astonishing speed.
CF: I can’t believe you wrote that, Hugh.
HH: I did. I wrote that you and Ben Carson will be players, but you can’t be the nominee, and I was wrong in the Queen, but you know, you’ve got to go to press at some point. But I also said don’t let her get under your skin, my advice to Hillary. Have Barbara Boxer respond to her, or someone else. Do you think you’re getting to her?
CF: I do, actually.
HH: I do, too.
CF: I do. I do.
HH: And what evidence do you see of that?
CF: Occasionally, her campaign staff will, you know, push on something that they really shouldn’t respond to. I mean, by the way, you gave her the right advice. You gave her the right advice when you said just ignore Carly as long as you can. It’s also the case that the bookies may have me at 33-1 odds, but I started as a secretary. I’m used to being underestimated. I can win this. And when I win this nomination, I can take the fight to Hillary Clinton, and that is exactly what we have to do. So you think I’m getting under her skin now? You wait until we’re on a general election debate stage.
HH: Ted Cruz speculated about the prospect of an open convention. Now all of us from Cleveland, I’m from Northeastern Ohio, we’re mourning today, because the Cavaliers lost last night. But I said 2016’s our year in Cleveland. We’re going to win everything in 2016, and there’s going to be a convention in Cleveland. What do you think about an open convention? Do you think that, given the rules set that we have and the way that, we’ll come back after break and I’ll ask you that. Carly Fiorina, my guest from the Empire State building, fascinating conversation. Carly, what’s the website?
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HH: One of the most surprising stories of 2015, continuing on to 2016, is the emergence of Carly Fiorina as if not yet a first-tier candidate, a second-tier candidate that everyone is talking about as boy, she’s going to be a great vice presidential nominee, and I don’t think she’s actually running for vice president. Carly Fiorina, what about, as I said before break, Ted Cruz raised the possibility of an open brokered convention?
CF: Well, I think it is a possibility. I’m not sure it’s a probability, but if you look at the number of candidates that we have, and if you look at the rules, sure, it’s a possibility.
HH: Everything is proportional, now this is inside baseball, until March 15th. On March 1st is the SEC primary. Mike Huckabee’s friends in Arkansas moved his primary up so he could get some delegates on March 1st. Where’s Carly Fiorina’s map after South Carolina? Where’s your focus?
CF: Well, we’ll see. We’ll see.
HH: Oh, come on. You’ve got to give me something for a headline here, Carly.
CF: Well, you know, look, for Heaven’s sakes, it’s June what? It’s June 17th today of 2015? We’ve got a long way to go. And what I’m focused on right now is making sure that I’m on that debate stage.
HH: Well that’s, you know, I’m going to be asking questions at at least three of those debates.
CF: Yes. I want to be on that stage with you, Hugh.
HH: I’m sure you’re going to, you know, CNN’s going to do the top tier and the bottom tier, but I think you’re over 1% already, aren’t you?
HH: I thought so. You’re just everywhere, and you’re doing what candidates should do, which is engage at every opportunity with the public unscripted, no-holes barred. Let me ask you about yesterday, the Donald. First of all, what did you make of Donald Trump’s announcement?
CF: Well, I think it was classic Donald Trump. It was endlessly entertaining.
HH: And what do you think of him as a candidate and someone who you may have to debate with?
CF: You know, I think Donald Trump is tapping into the frustration of the American people with the professional political class. I also feel that frustration. 80-plus percent of the American people now believe we have a professional political class of both parties who are more focused on the preservation of their own position, title and privilege than doing work and solving problems. I think the question for people will be who has the experience and the temperament to actually go solve those problems.
HH: He also said I’m really rich, and we laughed about that on Morning Joe, and I will talk, he’s a gift to talk radio, right? The Donald is going to be on with me Monday. He’s been on before. It doesn’t matter what question I ask him. He answers whatever question he wants to answer. But he said I’m really rich, and that gives me a freedom to run away from special interests. What do you make of that argument, because Mitt Romney could have made that argument and chose not to.
CF: Well, obviously Donald is very rich. Good for him. I begrudge him none of his success. And I think it’s an argument that resonates with some people.
HH: Do you think wealth and the disclosure form that he filed yesterday is going to deter people from believing he can connect with anyone? And will your accomplishment on the financial side deter anyone from believing that you can connect with them?
CF: Well you know, I released two full years of tax returns. There’s more information out there. It’s down to the penny. There aren’t any estimates. It’s not, you know, a two page summary as Donald Trump laid out. And of course, I tell everyone my own story, which is that I started as a secretary, and my husband started as a tow truck driver. And together, we’ve been very fortunate. We’ve built a good life, because we had an education, because we had opportunity, because we had people who took a chance on us. I don’t think people in this nation, despite the liberal left’s attempt, I don’t think people in this nation begrudge someone their success if they have gained it in a worthy manner. I think they hope that everyone in this country will have opportunities and education, and someone to take a chance on them. I certainly hope that. It is why I’m running for president, because I think not enough people do have those opportunities.
HH: www.carlyforpresident.com if you want to become part of Carly’s team. When did you release your tax returns? I missed it.
CF: I think it was two weeks ago. We released them in gory detail, as well as the estimates of every asset we own. So there really are no mysteries about my financial situation.
HH: You think that’s a fair standard for every candidate, two years of tax returns, just put them out there? I’ve always thought two or three is the minimum, but also, it pretty much gives everyone a good idea of what people are worth and what they’re making their money from.
CF: Well, I have wanted to be from the beginning of this transparent about absolutely everything, because I think the only way you build trust, and leadership is based on trust, you have to be transparent. People have to come to know who you are. They have to come to judge whether your actions match your words. That’s the only way you build trust. And this is why, of course, Hillary Clinton’s lack of transparency is such a problem for her.
HH: Oh, her numbers in Quinnipiac are terrible. People don’t trust here. And I don’t know how you reverse that. It’s pretty hard to get it back. Let me ask you about a story, we’ll talk about ISIS after the break in our last segment, Carly, but today, the California Labor Commission, I don’t know if you’ve seen this, yet, has ruled in California that Uber drivers are employees. This, of course, would be a devastating blow to Uber. It would put them out of business in California, in essence. And they will appeal it. It’s not binding, etc. But what is wrong with the American government that they want to put all these people out of their little jobs that they’re making, I talk to my Uber drivers wherever I go. Drive With Uber is a sponsor of this show. They love their life. They love being their own boss. What’s wrong with the Labor Commission of California?
CF: Well, this is crony capitalism once again. What government bureaucrats always want to do is make sure that they are protecting the entrenched. When you have big, complicated government, you create a situation where only the bit, the powerful, the wealthy and the well-connected can survive. And so it’s in the big companies’ interests that Uber is put out of business. That’s called crony capitalism. Big government and big business get together and say let’s make it hard for the little guy. I find it totally unsurprising, and it’s tragic, because this is what we’re doing all, to all kinds of businesses. It’s why we are now destroying more businesses than we’re creating for the first time in U.S. history. That Uber story you just told is happening in communities all across this nation.
HH: At the same time that the EPA is rolling out new regulations. If you overwater your lawn, you’re going to be under the jurisdiction of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
CF: That’s right. That’s right.
HH: How do companies like Hewlett-Packard, which you ran, or Lucent, which you ran, why don’t they just off-shore? I mean, there are places that will let you do business in this world.
CF: Well, and I think we have two terrible things going on in our nation’s economy today, which impact people’s lives. The first is what we just talked about, crony capitalism, the big, powerful, complicated, complex, corrupt, inept government creates a situation where only the big and the powerful and the wealthy and the well-connected can handle it. The second thing that we have going on is we somehow, particularly with this government, don’t think we have to compete for every job. We have to compete for every job in this 21st Century economy. A job can go anywhere, money can go anywhere, talent can go anywhere. And so what we’re doing is just shooting ourselves in the foot over and over again. We have to compete for every job by create a business-friendly environment. That means we can’t have the highest tax rate in the world. That’s cracy.
HH: What do you make of the Lee-Rubio tax plan? One of your, one of the people you’ll be competing against, Marco Rubio, has put out a two-tiered system.
CF: You know, what I worry about is every tax reform plan I’ve ever seen, including the Rubio-Lee plan, is we don’t really deal with the complexity of the tax code. That’s the fundamental issue now. It’s a 70,000 page tax code. My own view? Lower every rate, close every loophole.
HH: There are parts of it like casualty loss, my friend, Hank Adler always says, whenever the tax reforms come in, they throw out the casualty loss. You have to leave…I mean, there is a necessary degree of complexity, right?
CF: Yes, but our goal ought to be three pages, not 70,000 pages. An individual ought to be able to understand how to file a tax return.
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HH: You’re looking at a Freedom Tower, which replaced towers that were brought down by terrorists acting as Islamist fanatics. On Friday in my studio, General Stanley McChrystal came in for a two-hour interview about his book, Team of Teams. I don’t know if you had a chance to read Team of Teams, yet, but it’s probably not news to you what he writes about. It’s great management theory. But he said to me a statistic I’ve been repeating since. Every single day, the Islamic State makes 100 million contacts via social media with people out there, and that it only requires a very small slice of 100 million people a day to be radicalized. That’s the key issue for me in this campaign. What do we do about that, Carly Fiorina?
CF: Well, first, as you and I have talked about before, we have to give our allies in the region the tools they need to help fight ISIS, because our Arab allies really do understand ISIS is a huge threat to them as well. So we need to give the Jordanians the bombs and material they’ve been asking for, for over a year. We need to arm the Kurds. They’ve been asking for that for three years. We need to share intelligence with the Egyptians. We need to sit down with the Saudis and find out what they really need. And so what I would do immediately is hold a Camp David summit with all of our Arab allies, all of whom I know, and instead of trying to talk them into a bad deal with Iran, I would say how can we support your in this fight? There are things that we, of course, need to do as well. But when we are not showing strength and resolve and leadership with our Arab allies, they don’t have the same energy to fight this. The second thing we need to do, to your question, is we have to be as aggressive as ISIS is out there in combating this radicalization. You know, we have to win the battle of ideas as well as the battle on the ground. Both are incredibly important. And of course, you can’t do that if you’re not willing to name what this enemy is, which is why this administration’s reluctance to be clear about the evil that ISIS is, is so disturbing. It’s why this administration’s reluctance to really get engage in this in a serious way is so disturbing. It’s why it’s so disturbing and destructive when we are not pushing back on ISIS building momentum, because every time ISIS takes a town, every time ISIS builds territory or takes territory, then they have the momentum. And they can go out and say see, see, we took another city, we’re winning.
HH: I asked Mike Morell, the deputy director who wrote The Great War Of Our Time, why don’t we have a Manhattan Project to de-radicalize the Islamist extreme? He didn’t have an answer. Would you put one together if you’re the president?
CF: Well, yes, but this is another place where we ought to support our allies. So you may remember, Hugh, that when the 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded on the beaches of Egypt, President al-Sisi did something very brave. One, he responded. He bombed. But secondly, he went into the heart of Cairo, and he had a meeting with the five imams in the five most important mosques in Cairo, and he said to them there is a cancer in the heart of Islam, and only you can help root it out. I think, by the way, what did our president say in response to President Sisi’s actions? He said we can neither condemn nor condone the actions of Egypt, which of course left Egypt high and dry, and they continue to ask us to share intelligence, which we are not doing. The point is Muslims in that region will have to take the lead in rooting this cancer out. That is what the president of Egypt meant.
HH: Last subject, Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on Sunday and I were talking about the fact that Hillary Clinton, he showed, he had the Nerd Screen when she made her announcement over at Roosevelt Island, she spent 3% of her time talking about foreign affairs. She’s the former secretary of State. She can’t talk about Libya. I write in the Queen, you’ve got to stay away from this, you were a catastrophic secretary of State. Will the MSM allow her not to talk about the fact she may be the worst secretary of State in the last 120 years?
CF: Well, we have to make sure that we force her to talk about it. So much of this, truly, I believe, is going to come down to having a nominee who will not pull punches. Her track record as secretary of State is disastrous, as you suggest. It’s not just Libya. It’s not just Benghazi. It’s not just the Russian reset which failed. It’s not just that here we are about to cut a really bad deal with Iran. We have had more refugees in the last six years than in the last many decades. She called President Bashar al-Assad a positive reformer. She declared victory in Iraq in 2011, and here we have a complete chaotic situation in Iraq three and four years later. She will have to be held to account for that track record, but I don’t think we can count upon…
HH: My friends, we have a Huffington Post reporter, Michael Calderone, in the other room, and I was over at Huffington Post today, and they said this isn’t a national security election, nobody cares about it.
CF: Oh, my goodness, me. They haven’t been out there. People are afraid. People are afraid. Americans look out into the world, and they know the world is a more tragic and a more dangerous place when we are not leading. They are afraid of what’s going on with ISIS. They are alarmed by Russia’s continued aggression. They are alarmed as well by China’s transformation from a sometimes competitor, sometimes partner, into clearly and adversary. So if Democrats or the liberal media say this isn’t an international security or a foreign policy election, they’re just plain wrong.
HH: Carly Fiorina, terrific to have you, www.carlyforpresident.com. Thank you.
CF: Thank you, Hugh.
End of interview.