Carly Fiorina joined me on the Salem Media Group post-election debate special:
HH: I begin with one of the key participants, and perhaps the overall winner of the day, Carly Fiorina, who dominated the first debate, won by showing up via video in the second debate, and not getting part of the car crash that was the second debate. Carly Fiorina, welcome, good to have you back tonight.
CF: Thank you so much, Hugh, great to be with you.
HH: All right, I have to begin by asking, has Chris Matthews’ lawyer served you for assault, yet?
CF: (laughing) Sorry, well, you know, Hugh, I’m not going to let anybody get away with putting words in my mouth, and he was trying to put words in my mouth.
HH: Oh, that was a thing of beauty. But it was also, what was missing from both debates, what did you make of the debate questions? You are, you’ve got the reputation now as the new straight talk express, or maybe the straight talk expresso. What did you make of the questions in both debates?
CF: Well, you know, first of all, there were questions that were designed to create controversy. They were questions designed to create ratings. Some of the questions were substantive, some were less so. Let’s just say that.
HH: What was not covered enough, because in my opinion, it was the Iranian deal, they’re about to get nukes, and the Planned Parenthood videos. What do you think?
CF: Well, I think you’re right. I think the Iranian deal was not covered enough. I think Planned Parenthood was not covered enough. Honestly, I think the economy was not covered enough. I mean, in the debate that I participated in, only half the participants got to answer a question about the economy. In the 9:00 debate, they didn’t stay on it very long. The economy matters a lot to people. So part of this is the format. It’s hard to ask all the substantive questions when you have the format that was put together here, but I think the economy, Iran and Planned Parenthood all received short shrift.
HH: You have no dog in this fight except to get someone off of that stage. So let me to ask you to grade the ten people who just finished talking.
CF: Oh, please don’t ask me to do that, Hugh.
HH: Gotta do it. That’s what people want to know. Who won the second round?
CF: You know, I don’t know, honestly, and I’m not trying to be cute about this. I don’t know. I’d be very interested in your point of view. I’d be interested in your listeners’ point of view. I don’t know who won it. I’m not sure anybody won the second round.
HH: Then let me ask a question that really cannot not be answered. What do you remember the most about the debate just concluded?
CF: You know, I remember Donald Trump’s answers, or non-answers on certain questions. I remember Jeb Bush talking about why he’s running. I remember some of the mini-debates they tried to create. But I think, you know, if you step back and think about this as a set of impressions, for me, honestly, nobody really stood out in that second debate.
HH: Of the people who didn’t stand out, those ten, Scott Walker had a line about Hillary’s server which I think probably registered the highest on the people meter as being monitored by Frank Luntz because of the applause and what I saw on Twitter. Why didn’t people go after Hillary more? She is clearly going to be their nominee.
CF: Yes, I have been wondering that since I launched my campaign. As you and I have talked about, I am the candidate who consistently goes after Hillary Clinton. And it remains a mystery to me why others don’t take her on more frequently.
HH: Mark Steyn said in my earlier show that the first round of questions in your debate began with a condescending tone towards the people like George Pataki and Rick Santorum. Did you hear that tone as well?
CF: Well, I’m not sure I did. But you know, I think that there were, I think there are a lot of people who understand that the way these rules were set, national polls, when we don’t have national primaries, disadvantage people who don’t have high name ID. It certainly disadvantaged me, but I think Pataki and Santorum would say it disadvantaged them as well.
HH: I’m going to say you might have actually won by losing that polling thing, Carly Fiorina, because they did roll your video in the second one, and everybody says, you’ve heard this, I’m sure, I’m not giving you any bulletins, that you dominated the first debate. So do you expect to be on the stage for the second one?
CF: I do.
HH: Let me ask you about the ending question, which was very important in a Republican primary. It was a request for people to talk about their faith. Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, hit that out of the park. Scott Walker made a very strong, specific call about his Christian faith, so did Marco Rubio about the country being blessed. Some people on the left find that corny. I think most media is uncomfortable with it. Would you have welcomed that question?
CF: I would have welcomed that question, because you know, I have battled cancer, we’ve lost a child to the demons of addiction. I understand in deeply personal terms the strength and the power that Jesus Christ has given me to endure. So I would have welcomed that question.
HH: I’m going to be asking questions at the next debate, so I may come across you, and I’m not being bound. But I asked earlier Rick Santorum and George Pataki, so I’ll ask you. What’s your advice to people like me who get to ask questions?
CF: Well, you know, I guess what I would say is, as I know you will do, stick to the substance. I find the questions that are trying to get people to criticize fellow Republicans sort of beside the point. Stick to the substance. These are serious times. You know, we tend to think about politics sometimes as a game or sport. It’s not. Politics and politicians and the policies they pursue impact everybody’s life for better or for worse. You always ask substantive questions, Hugh. It’s why I appreciate being on your show every single time. And so what I would say is do what you know, which is these are serious times, these are serious issues, and Americans have serious concerns.
HH: You know, if I’m a member of the active duty military tonight, Carly Fiorina, I did not hear in either debate one question specifically about the weapons I am provided, or the men and women I’m fighting aside. I heard about veterans, and Chris Christie brought up the Ohio Class submarine, God bless him, but no one talked about our military readiness.
CF: That’s right.
HH: I mean, it never came up.
CF: That’s right, and what a shame, you know, because we have to have the strongest military in the world on the planet, and everyone has to know it. You and I have talked about this many times. That’s part of what I mean when I say America has to be back in the leadership business. And so to have the strongest military on the face of the planet, we have to invest in our men and women. We have to invest in the technology, the weapons, the material they need. We have to care for those who have served us. All of these things are necessary, and you’re right. It didn’t come up. It’s a shame it didn’t come up, because it is such an important issue.
HH: Now I want to talk about pacing. The second debate was frenetic. I don’t know how the first debate felt. It didn’t feel that frenetic. But the three hosts in the second debate were doing Ricochet Rabbit on subject and candidate. What do you think about pacing and one minute answers?
CF: Yeah, it’s tough. It is, and you know, it’s interesting, because in the first debate, they let it go on longer than they said they would. So they decided, I guess, to extend that debate. I don’t know about one minute answers. I mean, it’s an interesting discipline, I think, but as we’ve been talking about, I think the important thing is to ask the substantive questions and really expect and demand a substantive answer. And by the way, we don’t always get substantive answers to questions. Frequently, what you will see is people launch into their talking points whether they’re responsive to the question or not.
HH: I told many people you’ve done so many quarterly earnings calls, you can’t get away with that with financial analysts. I think that’s why you’re direct, so a direct question. Of these ten candidates tonight, if you were going to be on TV for a long conversation with two or three of them, just a small group of candidates, it gets down to two or three people and Carly Fiorina is shouldering on and fighting on, who do you expect to be there, and who would you like to have that conversation with.
CF: Well, depends what you’re asking me. If you’re asking me to have a conversation with someone, that’s different than who I think will be in the final four or five. If you’re asking me who I’d like to go have a beer and have a conversation with, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, these are guys that I think are really interesting, and entertaining and fun. That’s not the same as who I think will be in the final four, and don’t ask me that, because that’s up to the voters and we’ve got a long way to go.
HH: Carly Fiorina, it is always a pleasure, www.carlyforamerica.com. Did I get that right?
CF: Yes, you did.
HH: And by the way, I’m still regretting, I’m going through The Queen and tearing out certain pages.
CF: I know. Well, you should. You owe me. You owe me. I mean, what can I say. You just owe me.
HH: Carly Fiorina, great to have you on our post-debate special.
End of interview.