The novice White House candidates have every reason to be pleased with their current standing, but they nevertheless find themselves at a crossroads, The Amateur Trio of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina – who, between them, have zero days of experience in public office – have done well enough in the cycle’s opening round to claim first-tier status.
And while it’s challenging for any national candidate to maintain that status, it’s especially difficult for someone who’s literally never won an election.
For a candidate like Fiorina, the goal appears to be demonstrating – to voters, to donors, to potential endorsers, et al – that she’s the real deal. She may have struggled badly in the private sector, and she may have failed in her only other bid for public office – Fiorina lost a Senate campaign in 2010 in her home state by double digits – but the Republican is eager to prove that’s she’s a legitimate presidential contender anyway.
Brazen dishonesty is likely to make that task far more difficult.
Carly Fiorina on Sunday stood by her disputed description of a scene from the videos targeting Planned Parenthood, but refused to say definitively that Republicans should force a government shutdown to defund the organization.“Not at all. That scene absolutely does exist, and that voice saying what I said they were saying – “We’re gonna keep it alive to harvest its brain – exists as well,” Fiorina said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” […] In a testy exchange with host Chuck Todd, Fiorina repeatedly insisted that the practice she described “is happening.”
Except, it’s not. She’s still lying.
Look, I don’t want to belabor the point. Fiorina made a very specific claim in the most recent GOP debate and that claim wasn’t true. Since then, she and her aides have repeated the lie, over and over again, pretending fiction is fact. ABC offered Fiorina a chance to clarify, but she refused, sticking to the falsehood. Then Fox News pressed the Republican to acknowledge reality, and Fiorina refused again.
Yesterday, NBC’s Chuck Todd broached the subject, and once again, Fiorina couldn’t – or wouldn’t – concede the truth.
Evidently, Fiorina just doesn’t care. She obviously realizes – since the question keeps coming up – that media professionals know she’s not telling the truth, and the GOP candidate has had plenty of opportunities to say she misspoke.
But she’s stubbornly committed to the falsehood.
It’s only natural to wonder whether this matters in electoral terms. The controversy surrounding Fiorina’s demonstrable dishonesty has had no discernible effect on her support within the party, so perhaps the Republican candidate’s lie will be inconsequential?
Maybe, but at this phase of the race, it’s a dangerous time for a presidential hopeful to develop a reputation for being dishonest – and that’s precisely what’s happening with Fiorina.
Slate, for example, published a piece on Friday explaining, “Even if you like to take your facts on some kind of sliding scale, Fiorina’s Big Lie is beyond appalling.”
Worse, it’s not just a single misstep. Fiorina’s debate dishonesty matters, but it’s part of a series of deceptions that paints an unflattering portrait. The Washington Post’s editorial board, which is hardly reflexively liberal, noted “Fiorina’s falsehoods” over the weekend. Highlighting some of the candidate’s more glaring missteps, and raising questions about her “character and capability.”
It’s the exact opposite of what a candidate in Fiorina’s position needs right now, and it’s a burden she brought entirely upon herself.
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this report, and her work is unrelated to the videos Fiorina has tried to describe.