BEDFORD — In her second visit to New Hampshire since the midterm election, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina told a group of New Hampshire business and political leaders Tuesday that “disquiet” in the country and what she views as a lack of leadership from President Obama has her “giving very serious consideration” to running for The White House.
Fiorina, 60, spoke to the traditional “Politics and Eggs” breakfast hosted by the New England Council and New Hampshire Institute of Politics on, telling about 150 in the room that she senses in her travels that “Americans fear we are losing a sense of unlimited possibilities” that has been the hallmark of the nation.”
Carly Fiorina autographs a traditional wooden egg
at a “Politics and Eggs” breakfast Tuesday morning
A Republican who lost a U.S. Senate bid to Barbara Boxer in 2010, Fiorina was in New Hampshire several times last year organizing a local chapter of her “Unlocking Potential” PAC, which was aimed at prompting conservative women to activism.
She returned in December to address current U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta’s Independent Business Council of New Hampshire and will return again on March 7 to address the New Hampshire Young Republicans’ “Gipper Awards” event and for other stops.
Today, at the Bedford Village Inn, Fiorina laid out her personal experience as a cancer survivor and as a parent who has lost a daughter, as a business executive and as a Republican who has a deep concern for the middle class.
While saying that she is a conservative, she also said did not shy away from her belief that people in distress need help from others.
Answering questions from a member of the audience, and in an interview, Fiorina said the immigration issue must be addressed first by securing the border, and she said the government’s inability or refusal to do so has led Americans to lose faith and trust in the government’s ability to fulfill its “most basic” responsibility.
She said that second, the legal immigration system must be fixed. Under current programs, she said, “we are sending home the wrong people and we let in the wrong people.
“And finally we must decide what to do with the people who are here. I believe there should come a point in time when they can gain legal status and work but I think there have to be consequences for breaking the law.
“And so for me, I’d say those who come here illegally will not have the opportunity to become citizens.”
Fiorina said deporting 11 million people who are in the United States illegally “is probably not practical but I also think that we have to start with what needs to happen – securing the border. Because unless we do that, no one has the confidence that we’re serious about doing anything else.”
But in the interview, she declined to comment directly on the Senate Republicans’ strategy of tying funding for the Department of Homeland Security to legislatively overturning Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“I’m not going to get into the political back and forth of what the Senate should do or could do,” she said. “I think it will be helpful for the Republican majority to be clear about their goals because there are many tactics they will employ. But I think if people don’t understand their goals, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of the tactics.
“Obviously,” she said, “there are some people who will have to be deported – if they’ve broken the laws. We have people here who shouldn’t be here. And eventually we are going to have to deal with those folks and that problem is growing as well. You have to pass certain criteria obviously in order to be able to stay.”
Fiorina told the group Americans’ “sense of limitless possibility is as important to who we are as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And people fear we are losing that. You can see it in poll after poll after poll.
“People sense that we are losing leadership, a leadership which can unlock potential in others,” she said. “That is why I am giving very serious consideration” to running for President.
She said a leader, to be effective, needs to focus “on an economy to allow everyone to find and use their God-given talents,” a strong early education for all children and an ability to retrain laid off workers for 21st Century jobs.
“I am a conservative because I know our values and principles work better to unlock potential in people. Every one of us has a God-given gift and every one of us needs a helping hand.” Liberals, she contended, “are trapping people in a web of dependency that is agonizing to get out of.”
Fiorina said that while small businesses are the backbone of the economy, “70 percent of small businesses say government is hostile to them,” and, “these are the people who are struggling.
“The stock market is doing great,” Fiorina said. “(Massachusetts Sen.) Elizabeth Warren is right. Crony capitalism is alive and well. But Elizabeth Warren is dead wrong as to why…. The bigger government gets, businesses have to get bigger in order to survive.
“We must fundamentally reform government,” she said. “We can’t tinker around the edges anymore. Our government has become so large, so inefficient, so corrupt, so powerful…that it is literally crushing the creation the innovation of this nation…Fundamental reform is necessary and I think it takes imagination and vision to think about what’s possible in the 21st Century.”
Leadership on the world stage
While pushing to “get the leviathan of government off the backs of this economy,” she also said the America must restore its leadership in the world. The world is more dangerous and a more tragic place when America is not leading.
“I know most of the leaders on the world stage today,” she said. “I know that for every problem there is an opportunity.”
She said she met Vladimir Putin, and “his ambitions cannot be stopped by a gimmicky red reset button,” a reference to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
She said she has met Benjamin Netanyahu, “and I know he is coming to this country not to poke a stick in the President’s eye, not because he has any desire to violate protocol. He is coming here because he needs us to hear how dangerous Iran is.”
She said she know King Abdullah of Jordan and admired his reaction to ISIS’ incineration of one of his military’s pilots.
“While our President was comparing ISIS to the Crusade and betraying a lack of moral clarity, King Abdullah goes home, promptly executes two terrorists and begins bombing because he knows forceful leadership is required in the face of such brutality.
“Hillary Clinton once asked, ‘What difference does it make?’ “ Fiorina said. “It makes a huge difference when our embassy is purposely attacked by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11, and four brave Americans, including our ambassador, are murdered. It matters a lot and sends a signal around the world” when two terrorists are arrested “and we have them jailed in Manhattan.”
She said “an opportunity exists for a different kind of alliance” in the Middle East. “But it will not happen without American leadership.
“We can restore American leadership in the world, we can grow our economy once again,” she said. “But it will require leadership to understand that the highest calling is to unlock potential in others and to change the order of things.”
Answering a question about climate change posed by Rob Werner, state director of the League of Conservation Voters, Fiorina said, “There is a lot of consensus among the scientists that climate change is real and human activity contributes to it. But there is also absolute consensus among the same scientists that a single nation acting along can make no difference at all.
“So what I resent, frankly, is when people use half the science to destroy lives and livelihoods in coal mining communities” and other industries. “I believe the answer to this problem is to understand the science.” She said it needs to be a “global concern” and the recognition that it will cost “trillions of dollars.”
“The answer to this problem is not regulation, it is leadership,” she said.
Fiorina said that when the presidential nominating process has concluded, the Republican Party must be unified. She said the GOP needs “a messenger who can reach beyond the partisan divide and talk to Americans in positive ways about what we agree on and what we all know to be true about this country and our challenges and our opportunity.”
Fiorina also endorsed Republican National Committee’s plan for 12 debates, with an option for adding more, on a monthly basis beginning in August.
Praise from Guinta
Guinta praised Fiorina after the breakfast, while stopping short of saying he would endorse her if she runs.
“She brings a very different perspective to the issues – the economy, government and leadership,” he said. “Those are all critically important issues but she talked about them in a very different perspective. Not just from a business perspective, but from uplifting America. And I think the country is desperately looking for that kind of leadership.
“I’m impressed with a lot of the candidates,” said Guinta. “I’m very impressed with Carly. I would love to see her get in this race. I think she’s be a very strong voice, and a very serious competitor, and if I were one of the other candidates I would not take her lightly at all.”