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Q & A: Carly Fiorina On Trump, Sexism, And Being Cut From The GOP Debate

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks to local residents during a meet and greet at Cecil's Cafe, Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Marshalltown, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks to local residents during a meet and greet at Cecil's Cafe, Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Marshalltown, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
This article is more than 5 years old.

In the field of 16 Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, 60, is one of the few candidates who has not been elected to public office before. The former Hewlett-Packard chief executive said her reputation as a Washington outsider will work to her advantage. She spoke with On Point guest host John Harwood from Los Angeles on Monday. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.

How do you see your path to victory? 

The reality is that 80 percent of the American people- we see this reflected in polls over and over- now believe we have a professional political class. People who've been in politics all their lives. All their careers. Who are more concerned with their own power position privilege than they are with getting the job done. And unfortunately, I agree with them.

We have festering problems in Washington. For heaven's sake, how long has the border been insecure? Twenty five years. How long have we had sanctuary cities? San Francisco's been a sanctuary city since 1989. How long has the legal immigration system been broken? Twenty five years. How long has the Veteran's Administration been a shambles and a stain on our honor? Two decades. People talk about it. People give speeches. People take to the floor, maybe they passes a law or two. But the truth is, it's not getting better, it's getting worse. And the world is a more dangerous place.

Your message, in that respect, is similar to Donald Trump. Are you making the same fundamental appeal that Trump is?

There's a big difference between talking and doing. And I have a track record of leadership and accomplishment. I also have a consistent track record about what I think and what I believe. And Mr. Trump has changed his point of view on some key issues over the years, and voters might want to look into that.

Some Republicans say Trump isn't really a Republican. Do you feel that way? 

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I spend less of my time talking about the other men in this race, and more of my time talking about who we have to beat — which is Hillary Clinton or some other Democrat. We've got a lot of folks in this race who spend a lot of time shooting at each other. I would prefer to talk about the fundamental differences between what I believe and what the Democratic party believes. I prefer to talk about what I will do when elected president and that message is resonating.

How important is it to you to be on that debate stage next week when Fox hosts the first Republican debate? They're going to take the top 10 polling averages, and you're not in it.

Of course, I'd love to be on that stage. But it's interesting, if you look at former presidential races at this point in the race, the polls, the pundits, and the money, all would have said Jimmy Carter couldn't win, Ronald Reagan couldn't win, Bill Clinton couldn't win, and Barack Obama couldn't win. So, while we're all lathered up about an August 6th debate, it's worth remembering that we have over a year to go here. And this is very early going.

Would you like to challenge the way networks are running these debates?

In my life, I've learned not to spend a lot of energy talking about things I can't do anything about. There's plenty I can do something about. Fox News has made their rules; I'm not going to change them. So, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what their rules are. I spend all my time focused on how many people can I meet today? How many times can I get on a radio show such as yours so that people will hear what I have to say?

I have the lowest name ID of anyone running. I haven't been in politics all my life. I haven't spent the last 10 years figuring out how to run for president. I am called to serve. I have a long hill to climb here. People don't know who I am. But I will tell you- when people do get to know who I am, when they have an opportunity to hear what I say — then people start paying attention.

Trump has criticized your background, saying you were "viciously" fired from Hewlett-Packard, and that's not a good credential for a president.

I've been very open about the fact that I was fired from Hewlett- Packard. I would agree with him I was viciously fired in a boardroom brawl that played out over two weeks. But, I'll run on my record at Hewlett-Packard all day long. I will also hold my business record up against Donald Trump's or anyone else. I came into HP during a very difficult time.

On Hillary Clinton's economic plan: 

Hillary Clinton is, and always has been, a very left-leaning progressive who believes the government should be in the business of everything, when the federal government is demonstratively inept at almost everything it's doing right now. We have to start by understanding how the economy works. She doesn't. I do.

Here's how the economy works: the single most powerful engine of economic growth in this nation has always been small businesses, new businesses, start-up businesses, family-owned businesses. And we are crushing them. So, for the first time in U.S. history we are now destroying more of those businesses than we are creating.

We now have a 75,000 page tax code, and you know who that benefits? Big companies, wealthy people. Big government favors the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well-connected. It's called crony capitalism. The bigger government gets, the more crony capitalism reigns.

Have you encountered sexism in your race for president? What are the issues you would offer as particular interest to women Republican voters?

There's no doubt that women face a different level of scrutiny or criticism or subtle barriers in the workforce. Women know that. Men know that. As I have been out on the campaign trail, people are very open to my message. However, let me give you an example-I was asked on a national television program on a Saturday morning whether I thought my hormones prevented me from serving in the Oval Office. Now, a man isn't going to get asked that question. And what I now do frequently is I say- ladies, can you think of a single instance in which a man's judgement can be clouded by his hormones?

What are your thoughts on the Cosby case? 

Look, I would never condone any of this behavior. I also believe that it's important to hear always- both sides of the story. And I worry when people rush to judgement and we do it all the time in this country. We tend to have a cycle in this country now, where some revelation comes out. The media jumps on it. The media decides who's guilty and who's innocent. The president comments on it.  And then we all decide what the facts are sometimes before we have all the facts.

Listen to the full interview with Carly Fiorina above. Find more Election 2016 coverage from On Point here

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