Cleveland — Carly Fiorina believes that Jeb Bush’s gaffe earlier this week about funding for women’s health-care programs allowed Democrats to paint Republicans in an unfavorable light.
“I think it’s gonna become an ad,” Fiorina said in the spin room following the 5 P.M. “undercard” GOP presidential debate here. “I think it’s gonna become an ad in a democratic campaign. Hillary Clinton jumped all over it for a reason: because she saw an opportunity. And it is foolish to say that women’s health isn’t a priority. Of course it’s a priority.”
Fiorina, the only woman candidate in the field, said that Republicans were letting Democrats define the conversation, instead of talking about their own issues.
“It is Democrats who want to talk about women’s health when they talk about Planned Parenthood,” Fiorina said. “What we should be talking about is the abomination of harvesting body parts from babies. That’s what the Planned Parenthood employees are calling them. That’s what we should be talking about and not let the Democrats distract us.”
Fiorina has been well-received by Republicans for her willingness to aggressively attack Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, and for her ability to clearly and effectively communicate on the stump. Fiorina regularly points out that as a woman, she’d neutralize Clinton’s core selling point: that she’s running to be the first female president. By virtue of her gender, Fiorina might also be able to defang the “war on women” attacks that Democrats regularly level at Republicans. Fiorina said that the continued focus on that attack line was causing problems for the GOP.
“The one that is frustrating to me is that we’re still talking about the ‘war on women’,” she said. “When we allow Democrats, when we allow progressives to define the debate, we’re already behind the eight ball.”
— Alexis Levinson is a senior political reporter for National Review.