As Politico's Kate Glueck writes, "Carly Fiorina nailed it in the second Republican debate."
Of course she did. CNN made sure of that.
Until September 1, CNN had for determining who would be on the main debate stage one set of rules, which excluded Carly Fiorina. Amid complaining from the candidate's camp, CNN maintained Federal Election Commission law prevented it from changing its criteria.
Concerned about the optics for both CNN and the Republican Party of leaving off the only female candidate, CNN buckled, changed its criteria, and Fiorina was in, bringing an even 11 candidates to the debate stage. Suddenly, the FCC mattered not.
Good news for CNN: their decision appears to be the right one, given that the failed business executive fared very well. Better news for CNN, the network that made it happen.
Rolling Stone published a profile of Donald Trump in which the billionaire was reported to have remarked "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?! I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?" To wide acclaim, Fiorina then released an ad, described by Vox's Jonathan Allen as "shaming Trump as sexist, and it's the best comeback to a Trump insult yet."
Trump insults Fiorina; Fiorina responds, effectively; case closed. But not for CNN's Jake Tapper, who seized the opportunity to confirm the wisdom of his network's decision to dsiplay the failed 2010 GOP senatorial candidate (debate transcript here). So Tapper asked
In an interview last week in Rolling Stone magazine, Donald Trump said the following about you. Quote, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond what you think about his persona.
No need to have leaked that question to the candidate- she knew it was coming. Well prepared and staying on message, Fiorina responded (video below) in part "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said," as she was seen saying in the ad.
Not to be outdone, GOP right-winger Hugh Hewitt figured on getting in on the action. Unconcerned about hiding his bias, Hewitt began "I’d like to talk about winning because I think all of you are more qualified than former Secretary of State Clinton." It went downhill from there sd he continued
and as were the people in the first debate, but there are different styles, and Carly Fiorina, Governor Kasich, you’re conveniently located next to each other, and you have different styles.
Governor Kasich, you’ve been on my show a lot. You refused to attack Hillary Clinton, you just don’t want to go there, you want to do the up with people. Go, Ohio, OK, and I like that.
Carly Fiorina, I don’t have to bring up the Secretary of State — you bring her up, so (inaudible).
Which one of you is wrong? Governor Kasich?
It didn't surprise any of you that John Kasich, as any Republican candidate with an IQ over 50, did not criticize his rival for criticizing the satanic Hillary Clinton. No one ever lost a Republican vote by criticizing Mrs. Clinton and when Hewitt followed up Kasich's answer by asking "Carly Fiorina, your style?" the fix clearly was in. Right on cue, a few minutes before the end of the debate, a CNN reporter wrote an adoring article about Fiorina's performance.
Carly Fiorina may have done well on her own without the debate being fixed, though Trump's reminder of how she brought down Hewlett-Packard and Lucent might have put a dent in that. Credit Fiorina for accomplishing her objective in the debate, and CNN for the same.