Carly Fiorina, the only woman among the growing field of 2016 Republican candidates, visited The View on Tuesday morning for the show’s “Hot Topics” segment. Fiorina’s appearance took place at almost exactly the same time the GOP field grew even bigger, with real estate magnate and reality TV star Donald Trump officially jumping into the race.
Though The View is not the ratings juggernaut it once was, the show is still a powerful platform through which to connect with women, so the stakes for Fiorina, an underdog in the 2016, were reasonably high. Fiorina lobbed a cheeky compliment at Whoopi Goldberg early in the segment. “I have to say, I am so just thrilled to be here,” she remarked. “I’ve been a Whoopi groupie for like 20 years. I feel star-struck.” That compliment didn’t stop Goldberg from later pressing Fiorina on the abortion issue.
They touched on a number of topics — Fiorina’s experience in the business world as the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, the specter of her possibly being shut out of the first two televised GOP debates on Fox News and CNN. Much of that was predictable and unremarkable.
The discussion quickly moved to feminism, a topic Fiorina has been rather busy talking about lately, whether she’s been framing it as leftist propaganda and a cause that Republicans need to reclaim, or simply going on a mini Twitter storm last week to criticize the “progressive view of feminism” and promote her own brand of feminism.
Fiorina’s perspectives on feminism have been largely presented on platforms and in venues that are comfortable for Fiorina, where her base happily welcomes her messages. But The View, is a whole different animal for Fiorina. It’s a historically left-leaning show aired live from New York City. It’s way out of her comfort zone.
However, Fiorina largely appeared comfortable answering some of the questions — questions that some of the co-hosts actually looked a little uncomfortable asking.
When comedian and guest Michelle Collins — the only cohost who didn’t look uncomfortable at all — questioned Fiorina about her assertion in a speech last week that “Feminism has evolved into a left-leaning political mindset where women are pitted against men and used as weapons to win elections,” Fiorina doubled down on her idea of feminism.
“I believe that a feminist is any woman who lives the life she chooses,” Fiorina said, deploying a line she’s also used on Twitter. “I make no value judgments on the kind of life a woman lives as long as she chooses her life, and somebody isn’t choosing it for her — or she’s being denied something because of her gender.”
Fiorina added, when people “call my candidacy ‘offensive to women,’ that’s about ideology. That’s about that fact that they don’t agree with me.”
Goldberg then interjected with what she wanted to be a pointed question on abortion, but turned into a half question-half compliment. The usually quick-witted actress-turned-talk show host seemed to fumble trying to find the words for a hardball question.
“Are you going to run as a person who’s going to govern for everyone, or are you running on your Christian beliefs?” Goldberg began. “Because you said some wonderful things and it made me ask the question … if you feel that women should have the choices … why do you think choice is not a good thing?”
Fiorina, measured in her response, said, “Abortion is obviously a very delicate subject. I happen to believe that science is proving us right. The DNA in a zygote is the same as the DNA the day you die,” apparently testing material that works with her base of supporters on a more liberal audience. “We do have common ground on this issue now,” Fiorina continued. “The majority of women, the majority of young people, the majority of Americans now think that late-term abortion for any reason at all is a problem. So what I say is, let’s go find that common ground.”
Since launching her White House bid — and, really, before she’d officially launched her campaign — Fiorina has been fastidiously positioning herself as the anti-Hillary Clinton. View cohost Nicolle Wallace, a fellow Republican who served as communications chief for the George W. Bush administration and his re-election campaign, seemed to have a difficult time asking about Fiorina’s constant haranguing of Hillary Clinton — even though she’s been vocally critical of Fiorina’s attacks on Clinton in the past.
Fiorina seemed to sense what Wallace was trying to ask and responded, “Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee in the Democratic party. I’m not doing that because I’m a woman or she’s a woman. I’m doing it because this is a race for the most important leadership position in the world.”
Fiorina went on to say that she talks about “all kinds of things,” but the media seem to seize on her remarks about Clinton. Why do the media focus on the jabs at Clinton? Because she always manages to get them in. Rest assured, she slipped one in on The View.
“She [Clinton] has neither been transparent nor does she have a track record of leadership,” Fiorina told the cohosts.
There is no doubt that Fiorina has an uphill battle in front of her. But she may be gaining some momentum. She broke into the top 10 of the official and presumed GOP field (tied for tenth place with Ohio Governor John Kasich) in a poll released at the end of May. And in a poll released on Tuesday, she’s actually beginning to inch upward, clocking in at ninth place.
Perhaps in a couple of weeks, polls will reflect how her performance on The View resonated with voters.
Watch the complete segment from The View below: