Shocking nobody, Carly Fiorina has decided to suspend her campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, bringing to a close a campaign that was most notable for the candidate’s sheer dishonesty.
Fiorina, who was fired from her job leading Hewlett-Packard and lost a 2010 race for the U.S. Senate, styled herself as a truth-telling outsider who, as a female Republican, would be in the best position to take on Hillary Clinton. She also came to be seen by some conservatives as a not-insane alternative to Donald Trump, and was at one point in the hunt to win the support of the billionaire Koch brothers.
While she was unable to make significant headway in the Republican contest, we can at least remember Fiorina’s fights with the truth.
1) The Nonexistent Planned Parenthood Video
Fiorina learned well from anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List that the best way to avoid discussing a candidate’s anti-choice stances is to turn the tables and accuse the pro-choice side of extremism. In one case, however, Fiorina tested the limits of that strategy when she lashed out at Clinton for supporting Planned Parenthood, daring her to watch a video allegedly showing an official with the women’s health organization harvesting the brain from “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking.”
Fiorina received huge applause for the line even though, as it turned out, no such video existed.
The video that she referenced, produced by the Center for Medical Progress, didn’t include such a scene, although it did feature unrelated stock footage from a different anti-choice group that provided no information as to “where it came from, under what conditions it was obtained, or even if this fetus was actually aborted (as opposed to a premature birth or miscarriage).”
Even after Fiorina was called out for her dubious statement, she continued to insist that the footage existed. Her campaign defended her remarks by pointing journalists to “a video that isn’t from the Planned Parenthood sting tapes at all — and that still doesn't show what Fiorina said it did.”
2) Abortion Statistics
The uproar over Fiorina’s Planned Parenthood remarks turned her into a hero of anti-abortion activists and so she predictably pivoted to make the issue a key part of her campaign. At one point, her campaign reportedly pressured children on a field trip at a botanical garden to sit next to her at an abortion-themed campaign event.
In fact, the abortion rate in the U.S. has been steadily decreasing since 1990.
3) Gay Marriage Fib
In May, Fiorina raised eyebrows when she said that she opposed a constitutional amendment overturning a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, a reversal from her position in 2010 U.S. Senate race. “I think the Supreme Court decision will become the law of the land, and however much I may agree or disagree with it, I wouldn’t support an amendment to reverse it,” she said at the time.
While Fiorina’s remarks didn’t gain much attention at the time, seeing that she seldom spoke about gay rights issues outside of defending so-called “religious liberty” laws, a conservative radio host asked her about them several months later.
“I think that is a quote from someone else, not from me,” Fiorina said after the host read her a transcript of the remarks she had made.
4) About Those Fired Generals…
Fiorina tried to prove her foreign policy chops during one GOP debate by providing a long list of military officials whom she said were pushed out by Obama for giving him advice he didn’t like.
One of those she mentioned had resigned because he shared classified materials with his mistress, another due to a controversial interview he gave with Rolling Stone, and one left before Obama took office.
Even though one of the generals in question retired during the Bush administration, Fiorina insisted that she “didn’t misspeak” when she brought him up, blasting the Obama administration for not listening to his advice.
As one headline put it: “Despite facts, Carly Fiorina stands by claim about retired generals.”
5) Jobs Lie
At a CNBC debate focusing on economic policy, Fiorina declared that “92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama's first term belonged to women.”
Fact-checkers had a field day with the remarks, noting that it is absurd to blame Obama for a severe economic crash that started before he became president and ignoring the fact that “the women job numbers did a U-turn and became a net gain” later in Obama’s term as president.
“There were actually more women working at the end of Obama's first term than when he started,” Heather Long of CNN Money pointed out.
This ended up being a rare case in which Fiorina actually admitted that she was wrong, saying that she “misspoke” at the debate, even though she had previously used the false claim in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published before the debate.