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Carly Fiorina has faith in people. Everyone has God-given gifts, she tells those of us gathered at Turbocam’s manufacturing plant in Barrington, New Hampshire. That means everyone in the world has potential. “So why is our nation better?” Here you have a right to fulfill your potential. That right comes from God. She notes that she started her career as a secretary, answering the phones and typing memos. Only in this nation, she says, could she go from being a secretary to the CEO of a major corporation.
She thanks Turbocam for hosting us and for giving her a tour of their facility. Before Fiorina spoke, a representative of the company addressed the crowd briefly (they are a “a global turbomachinery development and manufacturing company that specializes in 5-axis machining of flowpath components”). Turbocam is proud to help the community. “Say we have a product that costs 90 cents to build, and we sell it for $1,” he says. “We’ll give 1 or 2 cents to charity, say to build a new park. But that’s not the only way we improve the community. Of the 90 cents it cost to build that product, 50 cents went to salary. And our employers then spend that in the community.” Their website also highlights the efforts of the company’s founder and CEO, Marian Noronha, to end slavery in Nepal.
Fiorina notes that Turbocam, like HP, started out as a small business. “We’re at a point where the things in this country that give us the opportunity to fulfill our potential are being crushed by government,” she says. “We are destroying more business than we are creating.” And it’s not big businesses that are being destroyed, she says. Big businesses can afford to do business with big government. “That’s called crony capitalism.” There are more than 70,000 pages in the tax code, she says. Small business owners tell her they’re filing their taxes late because they can’t understand the rules, and sometimes their accountants can’t understand the rules. At the same time, the IRS has announced they won’t be answering everyone’s questions because they “don’t have enough money.” Have you ever noticed, she says, that government always needs more money? Why is that? The TSA has a 95 percent failure rate. They want more money. The VA is unable to serve all our veterans. They want more money.
People sense there is a permanent political class in this country. “Ever notice that there are all these great ideas during campaign season,” for reforming entitlements, protecting the border, etc., but that “nothing ever gets done?”
One recent example of something that did get done came after the VA scandal broke. There was a tremendous amount of public pressure. Within weeks congress passed a law, and President Obama signed it, which made it possible to fire top level staff in the VA. “Only one person got fired,” she notes ruefully. “But it shows that pressure works.”
Returning to her faith in the people, she says if she’s president she’ll take her message directly to the people. “I’ll give a talk in the Oval Office, and I’ll say, ‘Do you think it’s a good idea to fire federal employees who don’t do their jobs? Take out your cell phone—press 1 for yes, 2 for no.’ ” The crowd cheers. “Do you think federal employees who watch pornography all day should be fired? 1 for yes, 2 for no!”
Hillary Clinton must not be president, Fiorina declares. “Not because she’s a woman, but because her ideas are wrong.” Also, Clinton has no record of accomplishments.
There is a difference between being a leader and a manager, she says. She discusses her time at HP. Managers work within the existing structure. Leaders push the boundaries. Yes, she got fired. That’s because she was willing to do things that might be unpopular with the board but that she believed were best for the company. She notes the various ways in which HP grew during the time she was CEO.
If she is president, she will make two phone calls on her first day. The first will be to Benjamin Netanyahu to tell him the United States will support Israel. She says this will be important not only for the relationship between the United States and Israel but also for our relations with other allies — allies whose leaders are currently thinking “If the US won’t stand up for Israel, why would they stand up for us?” We need to support our allies, she says. Egypt is fighting ISIS. We need to help them. Jordan’s King Abdullah has asked us for specific materiel. We need to send it to him.
Her next phone call will be to Ali Khamenei. “Arguably, he won’t answer the phone—but he’ll get the message. And the message is this: I don’t care what agreement you’ve made with Barack Obama. There’s a new agreement. You will open every nuclear facility to inspection, or we will freeze all your assets and make it impossible for Iran to do business internationally.” This will send a message to Iran, and to all of our enemies. “I would not call Vladimir Putin,” she says. “We’ve done enough talking to Putin.” She would immediately renew missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. She would arm the Ukrainians. And she would aggressively send American troops into the Balkan states to perform military exercises with them.
Fiorina speaks for about 40 minutes, pacing slowly in front of the crowd, microphone in hand, without notes. She’s a good speaker. Really good. The crowd nods, laughs, cheers along with her.
A young man, still in college, asks her what can be done to reach out to young people. “Most college students are not on our side,” he laments. She suggests talking not about politics directly, but about things that college students care about and that affect them. Ask them if they realize that their student-loan interest rates are high because the student-loan industry was nationalized as part of Obamacare, and that, as a result, there’s no more competition. Do they realize that the government charges them several times the interest rate that the government pays on its own debt? Do they think that’s fair? Do they understand that when there’s competition, prices go down? Do they recognize that in the technology sector there’s tremendous competition, and prices are continuously dropping?
“A lot of us here in New Hampshire support the Second Amendment,” says another man. “What’s your position?”
“Well, I’m pro,” she says. It’s about as simple as that. The crowd cheers. “Frank is a gun owner. I’m not a very good shot, but if need be, I could protect my family.” The crowd drowns her out with applause. She notes that whenever there is a mass-shooting, for instance recently in South Carolina, politicians rush in to use it to their advantage. But South Carolina has gun control laws, some of the same laws that President Obama and others have called for. They don’t work. “Look at the states and cities with the worst gun crime. They have the strictest laws.”
“What role, if any, should the federal government have in education?” asks a woman who is a teacher in Virginia.
“Well, here are some facts,” says Fiorina. “Over the past 50 years, federal spending on education has increased”—and here she uses a statistic that I can’t quite remember, but let’s just say “exponentially.” And education has not improved. Test scores are down. “There is no connection between federal spending and quality of education. The truth is the secret to a good education is a good teacher and two parents. That’s it.” She remembers the Chicago teacher’s union strike a few years ago. The president of the union had been quoted as saying that teachers cannot be held accountable for the performance of students in their class, because most of those students are poor and come from broken families. “The Democrats are wrong on this issue,” says Fiorina. Everyone has potential, and our schools are failing to provide our children with the ability to realize their full potential.
“Hi, I work for Ricochet.com,” I say, shaking her hand. “We’d love to have you back on the podcast some time.”
“Oh, any time,” she says. “I did the podcast not too long ago, actually. Yeah, I liked it”
“Yeah, was it during CPAC?”
“I think it was the First in the Nation Leadership Summit here in New Hampshire. Listen, talk to my press secretary, Anna.”
Anna Epstein gives me her card. “Any time,” she says. “Carly really enjoyed being on the podcast before.”