Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina were on the Sunday talk shows this weekend (Bush on “Fox News Sunday” and Fiorina on NBC’s “Meet the Press”), and what a contrast there was between the two.
When Chuck Todd repeatedly challenged Fiorina on Planned Parenthood, she came out swinging and challenged Todd right back. But when Chris Wallace asked Bush a question about Planned Parenthood, he allowed himself to be interrupted and fell into the media trap — the premise that Republicans will be the ones shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood, not Barack Obama and the Democrats.
Bush said “it would be great” to defund Planned Parenthood, but it’s not going to happen. He then criticized Republicans for being so bold as to challenge Democrats despite having a majority in both houses. Translation: Surrender before the battle begins.
Fiorina went on the offensive, saying Republicans should force Obama to explain why he is willing to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, not the other way around: “We should stand up and fight on this issue.”
The grassroots is seething mad over a Republican majority that rolls over and caves to Obama’s every demand. Bush doesn’t see it — and if he ever wants to recover from his massive tank in the polls, he better step outside his Washington/New York bubble and listen to the grassroots.
As for Fiorina, she can only gain from this contrast. Republican voters clearly want something different than the establishment has to offer, and Fiorina is one of the candidates who has something different — a will to fight.
Here was Fiorina’s appearance:
CHUCK TODD: … Let me start right in with the Planned Parenthood situation. At the debate, the most recent debate, you described the following scene, claiming it was on a tape: “A fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'” Since then, when asked about the claim, your campaign has attacked Planned Parenthood, but there is no tape. There is no evidence that the scene you described exists. Are you willing now to concede that you exaggerated that scene?
CARLY FIORINA: No, not at all. That scene absolutely does exist. And that voice saying what I said they were saying, “We’re going to keep it alive to harvest its brain” exists as well. Here’s the thing. Yesterday I was at a football game–
CHUCK TODD: So you saw that moment on the tape?
CARLY FIORINA: Yes. And I would challenge Planned Parenthood. Here’s the deal. Yesterday, I was protested by Planned Parenthood people who were throwing condoms at me. I don’t know what that has to do with this. They’re trying to distract the American people from the hideous reality that Planned Parenthood is aborting fetuses alive to harvest their brains and other body parts. That is a fact. Planned Parenthood will not and cannot deny this because it is happening. It is happening in this nation. And taxpayers are paying for it. Planned Parenthood desperately wants everyone to think this isn’t going on. Because when Americans realize it is going on, whether they are pro-life or pro-choice, they are horrified. This goes to the character of our nation and it must be stopped.
CHUCK TODD: Well, the footage you describe at best is a reenactment. The people even– the people that made the videos admit it’s stock footage. Yet, you went right along and said, “It’s Planned Parenthood.”
CARLY FIORINA: Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, Chuck. Do you think this is not happening? Does Hillary Clinton think this is not happening? So sad that you missed the opportunity to ask Mrs. Clinton why she said, “Late-term abortions were only performed for medical purposes.” That is patently false. This is happening in America today. And taxpayers are paying for it. That is a fact. It is a reality. And no one can run away from it.
CHUCK TODD: But you are sort of ducking the video, the specific of this question. And I guess I’m trying, because let me tell you what a Washington Post–
CARLY FIORINA: I am not–
CHUCK TODD: –a Washington Post editorial this morning–
CARLY FIORINA: I am not ducking–
CHUCK TODD: A Washington Post editorial is calling it a “full-fledged falsehood on Ms. Fiorina.” They said, “Why would you–”
CARLY FIORINA: Okay, well you know what? In Washington–
CHUCK TODD: They said that it doesn’t excuse your mistruth. They said they understand you have a deeply-held belief on abortion, but that you’re exaggerating this specific claim.
CARLY FIORINA: No, no. Well, first of all the Washington Post also claims that I am lying about being a secretary. So let’s get real. I mean, I don’t even know how to deal with that. I was a secretary part-time to put myself through college, and full-time after I graduated. The Washington Post gave me three Pinocchios for claiming that I was a secretary. So honestly, I don’t think The Washington Post has a lot of credibility here. This is not about being pro-life or pro-choice. It is certainly not about birth control. It is not even about women’s health. It is about the character of our nation. No one can deny this is happening because it is happening.
CHUCK TODD: Do you believe this is still something that Republicans in Congress should force a government shutdown over and have this showdown with the president?
CARLY FIORINA: I believe if the president of the United States and Democrats are willing to stand up and defend for what is roughly $500 million to $600 million line item in a budget, if they are willing to stand up and defend this practice and shut down the government over it, then let them explain it to the American people. Let them explain it.
CHUCK TODD: So you want the showdown? You want this? You think Republican leaders in Congress should force this showdown?
CARLY FIORINA: I believe there are a variety of ways to deal with this. But I believe this is something we must stand up and fight for. Because it is about the character of our nation. Taxpayers are funding this activity. And not only that, not only are taxpayers having to fund this butchery, but Planned Parenthood doles out millions of dollars every single election cycle to Democrat candidates. This is a political slush fund on top of being butchery that Americans, again, whether they’re pro-life or pro-choice, cannot support.
CHUCK TODD: Do you believe any of the money Planned Parenthood uses is for good, from the federal government?
CARLY FIORINA: I’m sure it is. I’m sure it is. But you know what I find amazing? The hypocrisy of Democrats who stand up and oppose every time taxpayer funding for, say, pregnancy centers, that are also very much focused on women’s health, but no, Democrats don’t want taxpayer funding for pregnancy centers. I just visited one in South Carolina. They are all privately funded. This is hypocrisy on Democrats’ part. This is about a political slush fund. It is about the character of our nation. And yes, we should stand up and fight on this issue.
CHUCK TODD: In 2010, in your Senate race, you called Roe v. Wade a decided issue. You have since said you would work to overturn it. What changed your mind?
CARLY FIORINA: Well, you know, here’s the thing. We are finding common ground. People’s views evolve on all kinds of things. And the American people’s views have evolved on this. So let’s just take one example. The majority of women, the majority of young people, the majority of Americans now believe that abortion for any reason at all after five months is wrong. Just as they believe that the butchery of live fetuses for body parts is wrong. So I think we ought to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act now. It is good politics. It is also good policy. And shame on Democrats who stood and blocked it because the majority of Americans now disagree with where Democrats are. The Democrat policy is it is not a life until it leaves the hospital. The vast majority of Americans oppose that policy.
And below is the transcript from Bush’s interview:
WALLACE: In the time we have left, let’s do a lightning round — quick questions, quick answers.
You say the next president should defund Planned Parenthood.
When you say the next president, does that mean that you’re against a conceivable government shutdown in order to force this president?
BUSH: I’m against a government shutdown. That’s not what the democracy — how democracy works. But it —
WALLACE: What about the argument that hey, look, this is what we need to do to stand up for principles?
BUSH: It would be great. And I defunded Planned Parenthood when I was — when I was governor. And I think it’s abhorrent that 330,000 or 340,000 abortions take place through these clinics. I’m a pro-life governor and I’m — I’d be a pro-life president.
But it will have no effect on funding for Planned Parenthood. That’s the problem in Washington right now. It’s so dysfunctional that that’s considered a victory. Continue to fund for Planned Parenthood, shut down the government and then cost the taxpayers more.
Better to elect a conservative president that will pledge to do it and work with Congress.
Thomas Valentine is a researcher for APIA and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.