- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2016

GOP presidential contender Carly Fiorina linked Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the GOP undercard debate Thursday, arguing that they are part of the problem, not the solution to the nation’s most pressing problems.

Looking to capture lightning in a bottle after missing the cut for the prime-time Republican showdown later in the evening, Mrs. Fiorina went directly after the Republican and Democratic front-runners in her opening remarks.

“We have to end the crony capitalism — the crony capitalism that starts with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,” Mrs. Fiorina said. “Hillary Clinton sits inside government and rakes in millions, handing out access and favors and Donald Trump sits outside government and rakes in billions buying people like Hillary Clinton.”

After fading in polls, Mrs. Fiorina and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky were demoted by Fox Business News to the “happy hour” debate, robbing them of the opportunity to speak to the millions of viewers that were expected to rune in to the prime-time affair a couple hours later.

Mr. Paul, though, was a no-show, leaving the stage to Mrs Fiorina, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — a pair of social conservatives that are looking to revive some of the magic that led them to victories in the 2012 and 2008 Iowa caucuses.

The event served as a warm up act for the main event, which was set to feature seven candidates — the smallest number to participate in a prime-time debate this election cycle.

SEE ALSO: Inside the Beltway: The GOP debate: And then there were seven

Donald Trump was to take center-stage, flanked by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas — Mr. Trump’s top rival in Iowa — and Marco Rubio of Florida, who is trying to consolidate the more moderate elements of the GOP that are currently splintered among several candidates.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich rounded out the line-up.

Thursday’s debates in South Carolina, and the Jan. 28 face-off in Des Moines, will help set the tone for the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1 and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary on Feb. 9.

In the undercard debate Thursday, the trio of candidates hammered away at President Obama, blaming the Democrat for weakening the nation on the world stage and pursuing policies that have targeted law-abiding gun owners, suffocated economic growth and hurt middle-class Americans

Mr. Santorum said Americans workers and wages have been hurt by the Obama administration’s refusal to secure the nation’s borders and curb the flow of both illegal and legal immigration.

And he warned that President Obama has put Iran on path to obtain a nuclear weapon — opening up the possibility of an “electromagnetic pulse” that could knock out the country’s electric grids.

SEE ALSO: Carly Fiorina: Hillary Clinton is ‘qualified for the big house’

“I have been fighting for 12 years with one thing in mind — that we must stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Santorum said. “That is the most serious threat facing this country right now.”

Mr. Huckabee vowed to protect social security for working-class Americans by replacing the federal tax code with a fair tax.

“Pass the fair tax, supercharge this economy with the rocket fuel that happens with the consumption tax and we don’t have to cut social security for any senior who has worked their lifetime for it,” he said.

Mrs. Fiorina, meanwhile, pressed the case — as she has throughout her campaign — that she represents the party’s best bet to take out Mrs. Clinton in the general election and drew contrasts with the former First Lady’s marriage to President Bill Clinton.

“I have been blessed by a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things in my life, and unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband,” Mrs. Fiorina said.

She blasted Mrs. Clinton for her response to the Benghazi attacks and the camaraderie that Mr. Trump has espoused for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Despite Donald Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Putin and Russia are our adversary,” she said.

It remains to be seen whether Mrs. Fiorina can climb back into the top tier of candidates, as she did earlier this year.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide

Sponsored Stories