Media Promote Carly Fiorina As A “Rebuttal” To “War On Women” Narrative, Ignoring How Her Policies Could Hurt Women

Media are hyping claims that Carly Fiorina's 2016 bid for the GOP presidential nomination renders the Republican “war on women” neutral -- because both parties now have women running for office -- dismissing how Fiorina's policy positions would harm women.

Carly Fiorina Announces Presidential Run

Fiorina Announces Bid For 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, announced on May 4 her candidacy for president, “becoming the first declared female candidate to seek the Republican Party's nomination.” [CNN, 5/4/15]

Media Hype Fiorina's Claim That She Counters “War On Women” Narrative 

Bloomberg: Fiorina Claims Her “Gender Offsets” Clinton's Ability To Talk About The “War On Women” Without Being Challenged. Bloomberg noted that Fiorina has worked to claim her “gender offsets one of [Hillary] Clinton's perceived advantages” in the presidential race, quoting the candidate's assertion that Clinton “won't be able to talk about a war on women without being challenged”:

In the months leading up to her presidential announcement, Fiorina has worked to position herself as one of Clinton's fiercest critics, noting her gender offsets one of Clinton's perceived advantages.

“If Hillary Clinton were to face a [Republican] female nominee, there are a whole set of things that she won't be able to talk about,” Fiorina said at the April Christian Science Monitor breakfast. “She won't be able to talk about being the first woman president. She won't be able to talk about a war on women without being challenged. She won't be able to play the gender card.” [Bloomberg, 5/4/15]

National Journal: Fiorina Is Chief GOP Voice “Pushing Back Against Democrats' 'War On Women' Rhetoric.” National Journal political reporter Emily Schultheis wrote that Carly Fiorina has become “the chief voice” in the GOP field “pushing back against Democrats' 'war on women' rhetoric” (emphasis added):

The candidate has thus far been among the field's bravest in going after Clinton. That's particularly true on issues of gender, where Fiorina--as the field's lone high-profile female contender--has an avenue that other candidates don't.

“She tweets about women's rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights,” Fiorina said of Clinton at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. “She tweets about equal pay for women, but won't answer basic questions about her own office's pay standards.”

The Clinton attack strategy is one Fiorina has been methodically road-testing since last summer when she launched her women-focused super PAC, the Unlocking Potential Project. From that platform, Fiorina became the GOP's chief voice pushing back against Democrats' “war on women” rhetoric, which served as a natural first step toward the Clinton rhetoric Fiorina employs today. [National Journal5/4/15]

Wash. Post's Rubin: Fiorina Offers A “Rebuttal To The War On Women” Since Democrats Can No Longer Argue “Gender Uniqueness.” Jennifer Rubin argued that Fiorina “is a rebuttal to the war on women” in a May 4 blog post for The Washington Post. Rubin went on to claim that Fiorina “helps reduce Hillary [Clinton]'s gender uniqueness,” because, “like money in politics, gender becomes a wash if the sides are equally armed” (emphasis added):

She is a woman. Of course. She is a pro-life woman. She is a rebuttal to the war on women, and helps reduce Hillary's gender uniqueness. Republicans have women, Democrats have women -- so what? Is this identity politics in and of itself? I'd argue that like money in politics, gender becomes a wash if the sides are equally armed. Along with the three non-white male candidates, she is a reminder the GOP is not merely the party for old, white guys. [The Washington Post, 5/4/15]

NBC News: Fiorina's “Gender Could Be Another Asset” Since, As She Claims, Clinton “Can't Talk About The War On Women.” NBC News claimed in a May 4 article that Fiorina's “gender could be another asset” to her in the 2016 race, adding that her “rebuttals of Clinton will be particularly significant,” and highlighting Fiorina's assertion that Clinton now “can't talk about the war on women”:

Her gender could be another asset. None of the female Republican governors or senators have opted to enter the presidential race. So while Fiorina largely avoids this subject, she has an obvious opening to run: Republicans don't want to have an all-male group of candidates on stage blasting Clinton during the GOP debates.


Fiorina's policy positions fit well within GOP orthodoxy, as she opposes abortion rights and favors cutting taxes and reducing the size of government. And with Clinton expected to speak frequently about the role of women in society -- and to campaign on policies like increasing government funding for child care and closing the pay gap between men and women -- Fiorina's rebuttals of Clinton will be particularly significant.

“Because I am a woman, there are many things she can't say. She can't play the gender card. She can't talk about being the first woman president. She can't talk about the war on women,” Fiorina said in a recent Fox News interview, referring to Clinton. [NBC News, 5/4/15

But The “War On Women” Is About Policies That Harm Women -- Not Just Women In Political Office

People For The American Way: The War On Women Describes The Right's Coordinated Attacks On Policies That Help Women. The war on women, a term coined by advocacy groups, describes the barrage of attacks from “far-right national and state lawmakers, in coordination with Religious Right activists” on “not just abortion rights, but also access to birth control and preventative care, as well as contemporary views of women's roles in the workplace, the family and the halls of power,” as People for the American Way explained in a 2012 report. [People For The American Way, Accessed 5/5/15]

Many Of Fiorina's Past Policy Positions Are Harmful To Women

Fiorina Opposed Policies To Address Gender Pay Gap. As ThinkProgress reported, “Though Fiorina has acknowledged the existence of the gender pay gap, she lays the blame for it on 'unions, government bureaucracies, the very constituencies that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party represent' and opposes the passage of legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act that would make it easier for women to discover and challenge pay discrimination.” During a January 2015 segment on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Fiorina disputed the necessity of the Paycheck Fairness Act, claiming “laws exist on the books today” that are sufficient to help women facing discrimination. [ThinkProgress, 5/4/15; PunditFact, 1/22/15]

Fiorina Opposed Minimum Wage Increases That Would “Benefit Millions Of Working Women.” Fiorina has opposed raising the minimum wage, claiming it would “hurt those who are looking for entry-level jobs,” despite the fact that, as ThinkProgress reported, “a vast majority -- 80 percent -- of women favor such a pay hike,” that nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are estimated to be women, and that raising the minimum wage would “benefit millions of working women and help close the persistent gender pay gap.” [ThinkProgress, 5/4/15]

Fiorina Opposed Access To Reproductive Health Services. Fiorina has repeatedly spoken out against increased access to reproductive health services such as birth control and abortion. As ThinkProgress reported:

In speeches and appearances this year leading up to her campaign announcement, Fiorina has strongly opposed access to abortion and written off increasing restrictions on access to birth control. At CPAC, she told the crowd that the Supreme Court ruling last year that allowed employers to deny insurance coverage for contraception did not negatively impact women, despite evidence that the decision could severely impact the ability of low-income women workers to afford the reproductive health care they need. More than two-thirds of polled women voters, and a majority of Catholics, disagree with Fiorina, and say private corporations should not be allowed to deny their workers insurance that covers birth control. [ThinkProgress, 5/4/15]

Fiorina Opposed The Affordable Care Act, Which “Greatly Improves Women's Access” To Health Care. Fiorina has opposed the Affordable Care Act, claiming that it “does not solve problems -- it creates them.” But as NARAL Pro-Choice America notes, the health care law “greatly improves women's access to basic health care by ensuring coverage and affordability of maternity care, family-planning services, and other reproductive-health services.” [NARAL Pro-Choice America, Accessed 5/5/15]

The GOP Has Already Waged An Assault On Women's Rights And Health In 2015

Republican Legislators Proposed 332 Provisions To Restrict Abortion In First Few Months of 2015. The first few months of 2015 have seen at least 332 provisions to restrict access to abortion introduced in the legislatures of nearly every state, according to an April 2 report from the Guttmacher Institute. The anti-choice measures included many provisions roundly condemned by medical experts, including measures to restrict abortion services at 20 weeks of pregnancy and during the second trimester, as well as bills “seeking to impose targeted regulations on abortion providers” (or TRAP laws). The high number of abortion-related state-level legislation introduced so far in 2015 follows a trend of Republican-led state legislatures sweeping in a record number of abortion restrictions following electoral gains in 2010:

[Guttmacher Institute, 4/2/15; Planned Parenthood Action, 4/7/15 via Media Matters]

Colorado GOP Ended Funding For “America's Most-Effective Anti-Teen Pregnancy Program.” On April 30, Republicans in Colorado blocked funding for a state program that has been called “America's most-effective anti-teen pregnancy program,” citing the conservative myth that the methods of long-term contraception provided to women through the program, such as IUD's and implants, were the same as abortions. The program had provided pregnancy prevention to “more than 30,000 Colorado women, most of them low income” and was credited for dropping the state's teen pregnancy rate “faster than the nationwide average, allowing it to leapfrog 11 spots in the national rankings.” [Media Matters4/22/15; RH Reality Check, 4/30/15]