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Fiorina Shines in Second Republican Debate

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | September 17, 2015

No. 1,217

Trump-FiorinaAt the beginning of the second debate of the eleven top-polling GOP candidates, Jake Tapper of CNN announced that he would focus on statements the candidates made about each other. He certainly did.  Under the “lets you and him fight” ground rules, anyone criticized would have a chance to respond. This format frequently produced multiple responses and rebuttals to a single question.

The night was fast-paced and at times gripping.  Donald Trump had the most opportunities to speak, since he was the author or recipient of most of the barbs.  But quantity was not quality and he clearly lost in many exchanges with other candidates.

His first salvo, which was not responsive to the question being asked, was to attack Rand Paul for appearing on stage with the A group, given his low poll ratings.  Rand shot back that Trump’s behavior in leveling such a criticism was just the latest example of his headline-grabbing “sophomoric” behavior.  Trump immediately confirmed Paul’s observation with another sophomoric remark about Paul’s appearance.

Trump did not help his cause by constantly making facial expressions during other presentations. It was definitely not his best performance. He frequently came off as petulant, vindictive and a bully. In addition, he had nothing substantive to add to the conversation. Nevertheless, if his goal was to continue to get maximum exposure, he succeeded.

And Trump the bully was no match for Fiorina.  Mr. Trump had made himself famous for not apologizing for personal attacks on other candidates when he should.  Bush tried to get such an apology on stage and failed. But Fiorina was able to score big on Trump’s remark to Rolling Stone Magazine concerning Fiorina’s face, and his later attempt to explain himself.  It was interesting, she observed, that Trump refused to accept Bush’s explanation of his statement about reducing the budget for women’s health services, arguing that the people had heard what he said.  The women of America, Fiorina stated, “heard very clearly” what Trump said about her. Trump responded by stating that Fiorina had a beautiful face.  That is as close to an apology as the Donald ever gets.

She also clearly won the exchange over her management of Hewlett Packard as contrasted with the management of Trump’s New Jersey Casinos, including trips to the bankruptcy court. Trump accused Fiorina of destroying HP and being fired for it by the board.  Her defense of how she addressed the company’s problems and brought it through hard times was pointed, passionate and convincing.

On the other hand, Trump argued that his Casinos’ corporate Bankruptcy filings were smart business moves to reorganize the businesses and that he showed savvy by getting out of the New Jersey casino business when he did.  Unfortunately for Trump, his presentation sounded rather lame. Expect to hear about the New Jersey bankruptcies frequently in coming weeks.

In a field of eleven, where nearly everyone had their moments of glory, Ms. Fiorina shined. In response to the question whether she would trust Donald Trump with nuclear weapons, she shrewdly passed up the offering of red meat and stated that the answer was not hers to make.  The American people will have the opportunity to observe all of the candidates under pressure during the entire campaign, she said, and they will decide. When Tapper pressed the question in an attempt to draw her into attack mode, she firmly repeated the same words. Good answer, Ms. Fiorina.  Very good answer.


Footnote:  Somewhere along the line, perhaps in the first debate, it was mentioned that Fiorina’s political experience consisted of a losing campaign for the Senate.  This sounds like Lincoln.


CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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