Fiorina tells Iowans not to settle, not to be quiet

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MOUNT VERNON — Coming down the homestretch of the Iowa caucus campaign, Carly Fiorina took time to reflect on how far she has come since entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination eight months ago.

“Nobody had heard of me,” she said at a town-hall meeting at Cornell College in Mount Vernon Wednesday. Fiorina joked she was “17th of 16 candidates” in polls.

“Here I am 10 days away from the caucuses tied with governors who’ve been in politics all of their lives and spent tens of millions of dollars on the air and we haven’t spent a dime yet and we’ve built a great ground game here in Iowa,” she said.

“Guess what folks, we can win this. I can go all the way,” Fiorina said, asking the Iowans to “send me out of here with the wind at my back.”

Frank and Pat Conrad of Marion were impressed by the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, but aren’t sure they share Fiorina’s optimism.

“By a country mile, she’s the sharpest knife in the drawer,” Frank Conrad said. “If she doesn’t win the nomination it’s a real loss.”

“People vote the way the buy cars,” Pat Conrad said. “They like the color but they don’t look under the hood. They don’t mind the status quo.”

Joyce MacDougall of Cedar Rapids agreed Fiorina certainly is the most articulate and well-prepared candidate, but she Fiorina has the name recognition necessary to win the nomination.

That’s the problem, Fiorina said. Americans don’t think of the United States as a nation of unlimited possibilities.

“When we stop realizing that we have possibilities, then we’re losing the core of who we are,” she said.

Instead, the professional political class tells Americans to settle, to “sit down and be quiet.”

“We’re being told to be quiet about our God, about our guns, about the abortion industry … to settle for a nation where record numbers of men are out of work, record numbers of women are living in poverty, that young people don’t even know the American dream applies to them anymore,” she said.

For about an hour, Fiorina spoke to about 125 people and answered questions ranging from immigration to defunding Planned Parenthood to the United Nations’ role in determining American foreign policy and repealing the Affordable Care Act.

She peppered her remarks with zingers, most aimed at Democrat Hillary Clinton and GOP rival Donald Trump.

Clinton, she said, “has escaped prosecution more times than El Chappo,” and referred to Trump as the “Kim Kardashian of politics — famous for being famous.”

Fiorina will return to the area Jan. 26 for a 12:30 p.m. town-hall meeting at the University Club in Iowa City and another at noon Jan. 29 at Lowe Park Community Center in Marion.

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