Image courtesy of Trump for President

Trump Lobs Insults at Fiorina

| published September 10, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff

Donald Trump's trash-talk has moved to Carly Fiorina, though he says now the comments were strictly business.

Real estate mogul and Presidential candidate Trump often says that he is unconcerned with political correctness. Thus his bombastic comments over the last six weeks, especially those which began shortly before the first Republican debate, held in early August in Cleveland, in which Trump managed to insult Latinos, women, several other Republican candidates, John McCain’s military record, and even Lindsey Graham’s choice of cell phone. He has called some of his GOP rivals “idiots” and “dummies.”

During that first debate, Trump deliberately dodged accountability on his language when the subject came up, essentially shrugging off Megyn Kelly’s demand that he account for his often shrill and harsh characterizations of women. Instead, Trump raised the stakes, mocking Kelly over the next several days, and even escalating the battle into an open war with Fox News. On Twitter, Trump called Kelly a bimbo.

Trump has not only been unconcerned with such forms of raucous engagement—but seems to even savor it. Polling data has confounded the experts and reduced to shibboleths all the previous understandings of how political correctness dominates the landscape. Trump quickly rose to the position of undisputed front-runner among the crowded GOP field of candidates, and has now—improbably—pulled alongside Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in several national surveys.

Now Trump has taken aim at Carly Fiorina—the former HP CEO who has seen her fortunes rise over the last month as a direct result of her “win” in the so-called Mini-Debate, the forum used by Fox News to accommodate the seven second-tier candidates who were unable to make the final cut for the major event held in Cleveland. Fiorina has gained momentum in numerous polls, so much so that CNN was forced to retool its own debate criteria last week to allow for more flexible polling—those numbers which reflect the fluid nature of the battle between the top and bottom tier candidates.

Fiorina will now surely have a spot in the next debate, scheduled for next week at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, and some political observers say that her fortunes may rise even faster when she gets on the same stage with Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and others. As the only woman in the crowded GOP field, Fiorina can make the argument that she alone is uniquely qualified to go head-to-head with Clinton in 2016.

Trump disagrees, and his dislike of Fiorina may not be based on policy. On Wednesday, Rolling Stone magazine published comments by Trump regarding his reactions to a TV appearance by Fiorina.

“Look at that face,” Trump said, “would anyone vote for that?”

Rather than mediate his comments or backpedal, Trump expanded his vitriol in his comments to Rolling Stone.

“Can you imagine that?” Trump asked rhetorically as he watched Fiorina, “the face of our next President? I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not suppose ‘ta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

On Thursday, Trump sought to clarify his words, telling CNN that when he made those comments about Fiorina, he was not referring to her looks. “I’m talking about persona,” Trump told Chris Cuomo on a morning news show. Later in the morning he expanded his clarification further, explaining to panelist on The View that when he hurled those barbs at Fiorina, he was really referring to her tenure as CEO of Hewlett Packard and her failed bid for a U.S. Senate seat two years ago.

Fiorina has spent little time attempting to retort to Trump, even when invited to counterpunch. In a brief interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Wednesday, Fiorina said Trump’s “comments speak for themselves.”

Trump’s latest comments have already gone viral, and have sparked the usual outrage among the usual circles. But most political analysts question whether Trump’s continued sparring will have any effect on his poll numbers, which—though no longer climbing—have remained stable, keeping him in a solid first place position among the other Republican candidates. Trump has, counter-intuitively, gained support among women, mostly GOP women voters, despite his frequent insults and his unfiltered language.

The only other candidates to see growth in poll numbers have been Fiorina and Carson, both of whom have begun to overtake other candidates in the crowded field. Fiorina was considered the breakout performer in the first debate, and her polling surge has been steady and consistent since mid-August. Carson, too, has gained momentum.

None of the GOP polling leaders have ever held elective office, a direct reflection, many analysts suggest, of voter dissatisfaction with Washington and politics-as-usual. The Democratic candidates are also facing a similar quandary, with front-runner Hillary Clinton facing heat in the polls from non-traditional candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont. Current polls show Sanders ahead of Clinton in several states, while other polls show vice-President Joe Biden—who has yet to formally announce his candidacy—gaining as well on Clinton.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Trump Signs GOP Loyalty Pledge; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; September 3, 2015.

Fiorina May Appear in CNN Debate After All; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; September 2, 2015.