Carly Fiorina joined me to begin hour two today:
HH: So pleased to welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, with whom I’ve done some barnstorming in the last year. And she’s getting ready to barnstorm the country herself. Carly, welcome back to the program, great to have you.
CF: It’s great to be with you again, Hugh. How are you?
HH: I am terrific. Now because it is obligatory in American politics to ask a silly question before I ask a serious question, I have to ask you the vaccine question. What do you make about this debate?
CF: Well, look, I think the science is pretty clear that Measles vaccines are safe. I think that parents should vaccinate their kids against Measles. But I also think the federal government shouldn’t mandate it. I do think public schools have the right to say if your child isn’t vaccinated, your child can’t come to school if we’re vaccinating for an infectious disease. And then, of course, I think the debate ignores the fact that there are some vaccines now that for younger kids, Gardasil, etc., that really are debatable. So I think it gets all mixed up with that, but the principle that I come down to is the science is clear. The vaccines work. But in the end, government can encourage and educate and protect the rest of the children in a public school, for example. But ultimately, it is a parent’s choice.
HH: Good common sense answer, Carly Fiorina. Why do so many people stumble on these questions?
CF: I don’t know. You know, maybe it’s because they’ve been in politics too long, and they’re thinking about the polls every five seconds in their head. Or they’ve forgotten how the rest of the world actually talks and works their way through issues. I don’t know. But I do think to your point, common sense is something people feel is desperately missing from our politicsl discourse.
HH: Now the Fortune Magazine today has, a Fortune headline, Carly Fiorina, GOP’s New Weapon Against Hillary Clinton. Do you think of yourself as the weaponized Carly Fiorina?
CF: That’s one headline I hadn’t seen today.
CF: Look, I think we have to beat Hillary Clinton. And I think Hillary Clinton is beatable. But I also think that it will take the right kind of candidate to beat her. And I’m seriously considering running for president, as you know, because I think I bring an experience set and a perspective and a voice to the political process, and to the problems that face us that’s needed, but also because I think I could beat Hillary Clinton.
HH: Now Carly Fiorina, you’re pulling 1% in a Breitbart poll, but it’s early in Iowa, and you actually have an on-the-ground team there already. When are you going to make this official or back away from it?
CF: Well, you know, I think I told you last time we spoke, Hugh, that I’m probably going to make a decision in the April timeframe. You know, it’s interesting to remember that no one is actually a declared candidate, yet, and of course, I’m a very new name to most people. I’m an unknown name to most people. I was really heartened by the response that I got in Iowa. I spoke there at the Iowa Freedom Summit along with many, many other potential candidates, was very heartened by the response I got. I found it interesting, actually, that of all the speeches all day long, I was the only person who mentioned Hillary Clinton’s name and took a clear shot.
HH: Yeah, I was on Meet The Press the next day. I thought Scott Walker won the Twitter primary, but you came in second on the Twitter primary, which means how people are reacting who are in the room reflecting it out to the rest of the country, you’re also very active on Twitter, so you’re participating in bending that debate. Are you going to stay committed to doing that, Carly? You just tweeted out you were coming on the program as well. I think it’s, you’re aggressively using the new media.
CF: Well, we have to. We have to, because that’s where the world is going. That’s where young people are. That’s where a very surprisingly to some large number of women are. As I’ve said many times, women are 53% of voters. Obviously, young people are our future and a critical voting bloc. I mean, we have to go where people are, and there are a whole lot of people on Twitter.
HH: Now Carly Fiorina, I want to ask you a difficult, sensitive question. I was watching the Super Bowl on Sunday. Did you watch the Super Bowl?
CF: Oh, I hate to say it, but I did not watch the whole Super Bowl.
HH: Okay, that’s okay. But Nationwide ran an ad about children dying.
CF: I know. I know.
HH: And you lost your daughter. What do you make about ads that play on that emotion?
CF: Well, I think Nationwide clearly regrets that they ran that ad. I mean, they’ve just gotten slammed for it as they should. I just found the whole thing unbelievably distasteful and sad, but I think Nationwide is getting a big, big brushback. I think that ad will hurt. You know, sometimes when ads are played over and over again, even if they’re controversial, it helps the company. I don’t think this helps the company at all.
HH: All right. And I just wanted to ask you, because I know you’ve been through that hell. And I was thinking of parents who have been through that hell when that ad played. And I haven’t been, and I just couldn’t imagine. Now, the big issue. Yesterday, ISIS burned a Jordanian fighter pilot alive. We have fighter pilots in the air over Iraq. And we should be praying for them. And at the same time, Iran had a general killed in the Golan Heights, and they’re probably involved in the assassination of this prosecutor in Argentina one way or the other. Which is the bigger national security challenge, Carly Fiorina – ISIS or Iran?
CF: Well, of course, they’re linked in some ways. They’re both huge challenges. They’re linked, because they’re, I don’t mean they’re technically linked, but they’re playing on destabilizing regimes in that region. They both have the long view, strategically. Iran has had a long term plan to gain a nuclear weapon and destabilize the region through its support of terrorist organizations for a long time. ISIS has the long view in mind. And you know what I was struck by, Hugh, is the difference between our reactions to things like what happened to the Jordanian pilot and their reaction. So what does Jordan do this morning? They execute two convicted terrorists. In other words, they send a loud message. You’re going to burn alive one of our pilots, oh, my gosh, how horrific, we’re going to execute two of yours less than 12 hours later. What do we do when our embassy in Libya is attacked deliberately by terrorists who murder four Americans, two of whom we know at least died in flames? What do we do? We blame a video, we blame a demonstration gone bad, and one year later, we’ve arrested one guy. That’s the legacy of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
HH: Today, Secretary of Defense-designate Ashton Carter admitted in hearings that we may have to shrink the carrier fleet because of the poor management of the budget situation. Carly Fiorina, you’re running to be commander-in-chief. Are you competent, are you studying up on these military issues as opposed to national security issues to be able to respond to what is really a horrific idea about shrinking the carrier fleet?
CF: Well, it is a horrific idea. You know, I have traveled around the world like Hillary Clinton, hundreds of thousands of miles. I know many of the world leaders on the stage today, including many, many in the Middle East. I served on the Defense Business Board, so I know the Defense Department. I served as the chairman of the Advisory Board for the Central Intelligence Agency. Let me tell you one thing that’s absolutely critical. We must have the strongest military on the face of the planet, and everyone has to know it. And that means that we not only have, need the number of carriers required, but we also have to have the strongest capabilities against cyberwarfare, against asymmetric warfare, all of these threats that face us. Of course, we have to have the wisdom to know when not to use that force. But my goodness, we also have to have the courage to know when to use it. And in particular, we need to understand that every problem represents an opportunity. This ISIS problem, and it is a horrific problem, but it does represent an opportunity. And the opportunity is to build an alliance which would include players like Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Iraq, maybe Turkey, to build an alliance of people who face a common threat from both ISIS and Iran, and to work with them to contain and defeat both. But it won’t happen without American leadership. Can it happen? Yes. It is a real opportunity in front of us, but it won’t happen without leadership.
HH: Now Carly Fiorina, last question, at the Iowa Freedom Summit, you had a memorable line. Traveling, flying is an action, not an achievement. I think that got more retweets than anything else. And it does summarize her vulnerability. What is her signal achievement as secretary of State, talking about Hillary Clinton? Is there one?
CF: I can’t find one, honestly. I mean, she shook a lot of hands. I’m trying to be fair. She shook a lot of hands. I’m sure she threw her heart into the work. But I cannot think of a single situation in the world that is better under her tenure. And I can think of many situations in the world that are far worse under her tenure.
HH: It’s a great platform on which to run. Carly Fiorina, always a pleasure to talk to you, follow Carly on Twitter, @CarlyFiorina.
End of interview.