ABC Has No Justification to Snub Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina Jim Watson Getty
Jim Watson/Getty

When the Republican candidates debate this Saturday evening, Carly Fiorina should be on that stage. She’s more than earned her place, and voters deserve to hear her voice—a voice that is authoritative, substantive, distinctive, and persuasive.

On Monday in Iowa, Carly outperformed two high-profile sitting governors, John Kasich and Chris Christie, as well as the last two winners of the Iowa Caucus. She earned the same number of delegates as two early favorites, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, who massively outspent her.

If Governors Kasich, Christie, and Bush are in the debate, Carly Fiorina should be too. The debate criteria have not been set in stone; they’ve varied with each event. If Saturday’s debate is to be meaningful, it must include Carly Fiorina.

The GOP shouldn’t be ignoring Carly—it should be thanking her. I’ve been with her on the trail in New York and Iowa and New Hampshire and I’ve seen the admiration she inspires. I’ve seen her bring audiences to their feet, cheering on our most eloquent communicator of conservative principles since Ronald Reagan. Carly’s resolve and strength hearken to Margaret Thatcher, and she’s rightly been called the American “Iron Lady.”

As Ken Blackwell said yesterday, “we all benefit from her engagement.”

The Republican Party should be celebrating the perspective and experience Carly has brought to this race and should be eager to hear her debate again.

This week Iowa chose Carly Fiorina–who started this race 17 out of 16, without pollsters even asking her name–over recognizable household names. She’s beaten or outlasted Lindsay Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker.

That’s easy to understand considering Carly’s record of results in the most demanding of executive roles; her history of challenging the status quo to get things done; and her unique qualities as an opponent to Hillary Clinton—or any other Democrat!–in the general election.

Carly’s bold leadership saved Hewlett-Packard as competitors fell in the collapse of the tech industry in the early 2000s. The merger she engineered with Compaq saved 80,000 jobs, doubled revenues, tripled innovation, and quadrupled growth—and has been praised repeatedly for its foresight.

As CEO of HP, Carly oversaw a budget larger than that of California or Texas. She took HP into 170 countries. She knows how to deal with world leaders—and, having chaired the External Advisory Board for the CIA, advised cabinet secretaries, and mastered the technological tools we need for our security, she knows our defenses and how to strengthen them.

Carly knows the struggle of the person who has battled cancer; she is one of them. She knows the pain endured by the mother who has lost a child to addiction; she is that mother as well.

This mother, survivor, and leader, who as president would shatter precedent and take her place among our greatest ones, has a unique voice that must be heard. On Saturday, Carly—and America’s voters–should be given that chance.

Hayworth is a former Member of Congress from New York.