‘I’ve Been Used to Pushing Uphill’: Fiorina on Being Excluded from CNN Debate

‘I don’t understand why media companies are deciding who Republican primary voters hear from’

VAN SUSTEREN: “Why is CNN keeping Carly Fiorina out of the next G.O.P. debate? Tonight, right here ‘On the Record’, former Hewlett Packard CEO and G.O.P. presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. She's surging in the polls. That surge happening as a result of a rock star performance at the first GOP debate in early August. But despite Fiorina's surge, now there is talk that CNN won't let Fiorina participate in their upcoming debate, claiming she is not in the top ten of the GOP contenders. So how can that be with their surge? Well, CNN is using old polls to average the numbers. Polls before Fiorina's post Fox debate surge. Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is here to go ‘On the Record’. Nice to see you, Carly.

FIORINA: “Great to be with you, Greta.”

VAN SUSTEREN: “Do you have a short message right off the top to CNN?”

FIORINA: “Well, you know, I'm in the top five in every statewide poll. Actually, we do have state primaries, not national primaries. And I'm also comfortably in the top ten in every national poll. So maybe then using all these polls from before August 6th is a little bit like keeping a football game -- a football team out of the playoffs because of a preseason game.”

VAN SUSTEREN: “All right, well, what CNN says, their response to this is they don't deny the fact that you are doing so well in the polls since the August debate here on Fox News Channel. But they say that CNN published that criteria for their debates on May 20th this year. And they further claim that the federal election commission guidelines make it clear that these criteria cannot be changed after they have been published. I don't know why the FEC can tell them how to program but maybe. But what do you -- how do you respond to that?”

FIORINA: “Well, I just -- I guess I don't understand why media companies are deciding who Republican primary voters hear from honestly. This is a Republican primary debate. The RNC in my mind should be in charge of it, not CNN. And in the end, voters should get to decide. I'm here in Iowa. And in the end, Iowa voter, New Hampshire voters, South Carolina voters, Georgia voters and others are going to decide. Not to CNN. So I think it's a silly set of rules. But I'm going to keep doing what I have been doing, which is to get out there and talk to every single voter I can and take advantage of every opportunity I can to introduce myself and to talk to the American people about why I bring a special kind of leadership to the White House. That's why I'm surging in the polls.”

VAN SUSTEREN: “But I'm sure that you would love to do that in the CNN debate. I mean, in the top ten, and because you are in the top five, I assume that you feel that, you know, that you should be there. Have you spoken to the RNC and have you, you know, expressed that, look, you know, since the debate on August 6th, I'm number 5 in these polls?”

FIORINA: “Well, yes. We have spoken to the RNC and we don't have to -- we don't need to prove anything to them. All you've got to do is look at the polls. It's clear. I'm in the top five in every statewide poll. More than one. So I think it's pretty obvious where I am polling now. I think it's pretty obvious that the more voters get to look at me, the more they tend to support me. And that's really encouraging. Of course I would like to be on the debate stage, but I don't think CNN is going to determine this election. I think voters are going to determine this election.”

VAN SUSTEREN: “You don't sound angry. I mean, I would be furious if, you know, if I had like a good showing, you know, on August 6th, like you did and that there has been a dramatic change in your numbers since August 6th, I would be furious. I mean, you sort of, you seem sort of, you know, more accepting of it. Is that a fair description?”

FIORINA: “Well, no, not more accepting, we're making a lot of noise about it. I just find that anger doesn't do much good. I also, as you know, Greta, I started out as a secretary. I have been used to sort of playing pushing uphill all my life. I have been used to getting underestimated all my life. I have been used to having the rules and the deck perhaps stacked more towards others than towards me. So, honestly, it's not new. But I also know how voters react. I know that we are packing the VFW Halls in New Hampshire. That we're packing the fire stations here in Iowa.  And I know what that means. You know, at this same time in previous presidential elections, the polls said Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama couldn't win and the people of early primary states decided otherwise.”

VAN SUSTEREN: “Do you think CNN could change this rule? Do you think they could change it if they wanted to?”

FIORINA: “Oh, yes. I do. And I think the RNC could ask them to change it.”

VAN SUSTEREN: “All right, let me relay. There are some really good news for you tonight in the -- I was reading the newspaper today. "The Truth about Carly," "New York Times" editorial by a man named Tom Perkins. He was on the Hewlett-Packard board with you. And he was part of the group of people who fired you. And now he said he voted to fire you and now he announces it was a mistake and, in fact, the editorial in the paper outlines what he says are your accomplishments as the CEO. So you have turned him around and he now has endorsed you.”

FIORINA: “Well, you know, Tom Perkins said that to me privately over five years ago. And I'm very gratified that he is saying it publicly now. I think my track record at Hewlett-Packard is crystal clear. I will run on it all day long. I have never hidden the fact that I was fired from Hewlett-Packard in a boardroom brawl. I have never been ashamed of that because I know that when you lead, when you challenge the status quo, you sometimes make enemies.”

VAN SUSTEREN: “But, you know, the interesting thing is that message that Tom Perkins, not everybody reads the New York Times editorial page, if you were on the stage at the CNN debate, we got a whopping 26 million viewers that night for the two debates. If you -- I mean, that message about Hewlett-Packard and you're being proud of it, I think that's not going to get out because you are not going to be on that stage in that debate.”

FIORINA: “You know what, Greta, I'm not denying that the Fox News debate was important and that the CNN debate was important. But there are also lots of other ways to get our message out. And please be assured whether I'm on that debate stage or not, I'm not going to be quiet and people will hear my message.”

VAN SUSTEREN: “All right. Carly Fiorina, GOP candidate, probably number 5 but not likely to make CNN's top ten because of the way they are doing their polling. Anyway, Carly, nice to see you. Hope you'll come back.”


Video files
Audio files
Similar stories
Rep. Slaughter: Disband Benghazi Committee, Tax Money Interfering in Election Process
Claire McCaskill Suggests Sanders’ Attack on Clinton Is Sexist
Trump: Dems Are Pushing for Execution of Babies After Birth
Boehner: Provision That Would Allow Us to Arrest Lois Lerner Has Never Been Used
Obama on Gitmo: ‘Key Magnet’ for Terrorist Recruitment, Plus ‘It’s Really Expensive’