Republican Candidate Fiorina Sets Sights on Taking Clinton to Task
CLEVELAND: CARLY FIORINA, the only Republican woman running for president, has escalated her attack against Hillary Clinton a day after emerging as the surprise winner of the party's first debates.
Capitalising on the glowing reviews of her performance in the televised Cleveland debates - where her lightning responses left her male opponents floundering and rescued her campaign from obscurity - Ms Fiorina is presenting herself as the party's only viable answer to the Democratic front-runner.
"Now, for the first time, actually, a lot of people discovered last night that there is more than one woman running for president," she said. "A lot of people discovered, I think, that I can win this job - and I can do this job." Relegated to the debate for those candidates who didn't have the popular support to make the main event, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO had seemed destined to join the long list of failed presidential hopefuls. But when tens of millions of Americans tuned in to watch the event this week they found Mrs Fiorina - who likes to compare herself to Margaret Thatcher - standing in a luminescent pink outfit, sharp and keen.
She accused Mrs Clinton of "lying" in both the email scandal that has dogged her campaign and about the circumstances surrounding the murder of Chris Stephens, the US ambassador to Libya.
"I will ask her why she continues to say she is a champion of the middle classes, while every single proposal she has put forward makes crony capitalism worse, and worse, and worse, which makes income inequality worse," she said, when asked after the debate how she would continue to take the battle to Mrs Clinton.
"I will ask her why she declared victory in Iraq in 2011; why she called Bashar al-Assad a 'positive reformer'; why she thought she could stop Putin's ambition - a man I have met - with a gimmicky red reset button.
"I'll ask her why she got every single foreign policy issue wrong as secretary of state - that's how I'll debate her on the issues." In attacking Mrs Clinton so vociferously, Mrs Fiorina is sending a message that, as a woman, she can strike where her male Republican rivals cannot - from a political party which already has an image problem with women.
That argument was only helped by the performance of Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, who during the prime time debate smirked and joked when Megyn Kelly, the Fox News moderator, quoted him referring to women as "fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals".
After the debate Mr Trump labelled Miss Kelly "unprofessional and not very good". He even suggested she was menstruating at the time.
"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her - wherever," he said after the debate.
A Republican gathering cancelled Mr Trump's invitation as a result of his remarks, describing it as "a bridge too far." Mrs Fiorina is able to bypass that mud-slinging.
By virtue of her gender she strips Mrs Clinton of the argument that people should support her in order to break the "glass ceiling", and elect the first woman president.
Though most don't believe she has what it takes to reach the White House, Republican financiers will help her campaign, seeing it as a way of throwing bombs at Mrs Clinton.
Some will also welcome her boost in the Republican field as a sensible alternative to Mr Trump, for those who dislike career politicians.
Born in Austin, Texas, she briefly attended school in north London as a child. She dropped out of university to pursue a career in business, and became the first woman to be appointed to head one of the top 20 US companies.
Yet her name continues to feature on lists of worst ever CEOs, for her time at HP when 30,000 workers were sacked. Mrs Fiorina was herself eventually fired from the board, but she walked away with a $21 million payout.
For the moment though, she is the golden girl, and the Republican Party is surely relieved to have her.
"She is smart, hard-working, and a bad---," said a strategist.