Standing atop the Iowa State Fair soapbox on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina did something unusual: She skipped the stump speech.
“I’m not going to give you a speech today, because I want to answer as many questions as I can,” she said before going on to use her allotted 20 minutes to field questions on everything from the minimum wage (states should decide) to Planned Parenthood (defund it at all costs).
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO is pitching herself as the antidote to what she calls the “professional political class,” but perhaps nothing sets her apart from her rivals as much as dropping her scripted speech altogether. The tactic is notable as candidates in the crowded Republican field vie to standout — particularly in the early primary state that many see as crucial to a successful presidential bid.
Fiorina has been shortening her stump speech and giving more time to questions in recent weeks, giving her campaign events a more informal feel and impressing supporters. On Friday in Iowa, she spoke in Mason City — about two hours north of the state fair — in a similar format, introducing herself briefly before fielding questions.
Her old stump speech isn’t gone, though: Fiorina sources many of her answers from the speech she used in the early days of her campaign, weaving anecdotes and sound bites into her answers.
“On day one in the oval office, I will make two phone calls: The first will be to my good friend Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel. The second will be to the Supreme Leader for Iran. Realistically, he might not take my phone call. He will get the message and the message is this: new deal,” Fiorina said in Monday’s soapbox speech, answering a question about how she’d handle Iran, Iraq, and ISIS. The line was one she has frequently used on the trail and — most famously — in the “happy hour” Republican presidential debate.
Fiorina’s strong showing during that event helped helped bump her standing in several new polls, possibly giving her a chance to break the top ten invited to the next debate hosted by CNN on September 16.