Carly Fiorina

Meet the Press interview- August 23, 2015

Carly Fiorina
August 23, 2015
Meet the Press
Print friendly

CHUCK TODD: Carly Fiorina, Welcome back to Meet the Press!

FIORINA: Thanks so much for having me, thanks for coming to New Hampshire.

TODD: It is always great to be in New Hampshire, let me start with the news of the week in the markets. You’re obviously, as a former CEO, what’s going on?

FIORINA: Well, frankly I think it was inevitable. I was expecting this a bit sooner. It’s inevitable because you have a huge economy like China slowing down, the Chinese economy is really struggling now in a serious way. That has a big impact. You have a federal reserve that is going to have to stop printing money eventually, and people see that coming. I think the economy here in the U.S. is underperforming. Two percent growth is underperforming. We now have structural problems in this economy, where we’re destroying too many small businesses, which are the real engines of job creation and economic growth. All of those things have added up, and people have figured out, you know what? We need a correction here.

TODD: Can our economy succeed if the world economy, particularly in Asia, is faltering.

FIORINA: Well, our economy definitely depends on exports to some degree. But the problem is now, most of wounds in this economy are self-inflicted. The fact that we are crushing small business, which creates two-thirds of the jobs and employs half the people that is a self-inflicted wound. We need to fix that.

TODD: Is this an opportunity? If China is faltering, and I say faltering, okay they’re contracting, but is this an opportunity?

FIORINA: Of course it’s an opportunity, because we have the most productive workers in the world, we have the best products in the world, yes it’s an opportunity. It’s also an opportunity, by the way, to begin finally pushing back on China, which has become a rising adversary. In the oval office, what I would do now, given this period of weakness, is begin to provide our allies in the South China Sea with some of the technology they have asked for. Be very aggressive about ensuring that China does not control the South China trade routes.

TODD: So you would be applying pressure. Right now you’d be seeing, we’ll they’re in economic pressure, you’d be applying pressure. South China Sea, maybe send some more troops over there?

FIORINA: That’s right, well at least patrol more aggressively. Fly overs, we cannot permit China to control a trade route through which 5 trillion dollars’ worth of goods and services flows every single year. Now is the time to apply pressure to China. While they are focusing inward once again on trying to recover their economy.

TODD: Let me stay in the international front. Let’s move over to ISIS. What would you be doing right now if you were in the oval office? We’re at the one year mark of, sort of this campaign to destroy ISIS, we’re not there obviously. What do you think needs to be done differently?

FIORINA: I would hold a Camp David summit, immediately. And ask all of our Sunni Arab allies, as well as the Kurds to attend. Why? Because every single one of them are fighting ISIS on the ground, as we speak.

TODD: President Obama did this six months ago.

FIORINA: No, but he was trying to talk them into an Iran deal, which was a bad deal. And they did not want any parts of it, and they were right because Obama and Kerry got rolled at the negotiating table.

TODD: I will get to Iran in a minute, let’s get back to ISIS, my apologies.

FIORINA: So I would bring them in, because each one of our allies has been asking for something specific. King Abdullah II of Jordan, a man I have known for a very long time has been asking for us to provide him with bombs and material, to help him in his fight against ISIS. We haven’t provided him, so he is going to the Chinese, I will. The Egyptians have asked us to share intelligence, we won’t, and I would. The Kurds have been asking us to arm them for three years, we haven’t, I will. The point is the Saudi’s, the Egyptians, the Kurds, the Jordanians, the Kuwaitis, they know this is an existential struggle for them. They know ISIS is their fight. They are prepared to fight it. But only if they sense leadership, resolve and support from us. I will provide that leadership and support.

TODD: Does that also mean we will be putting more ground troops there?

FIORINA: You know Obama is always giving us this false choice, which is if you don’t agree with what I am doing or not doing, the only option is thousands of ground troops. Thousands of ground troops are not necessary at this point. What is necessary is more effective training, for heaven sake we train people and get what, sixty-one a year?

TODD: We have been training the Iraqi army for fifteen years, and it hasn’t worked. Why will this be better?

FIORINA: So why don’t we arm the Kurds? Who have been asking us to do so for three years? What is this fiction that we have to go through a central Baghdad government? There is no central Baghdad government anymore. The Kurds are the most effective fighting force on the ground, they have been asking for arms, let’s arm them. I will.

TODD: You arm the Kurds, and then suddenly the Turks don’t want to help.

FIORINA: Well you know, there has been a growing agreement between Turkey, the United States and the Kurds. I think that agreement is worth building on, it is why you have to have a Camp David summit to pull these people together. But make no mistake, everyone in that region understands ISIS is their fight. It is an existential fight. And while we, of course, pay attention to the horrors that ISIS is perpetrating on the ground, the truth is, more Muslims, Sunni Muslims, have been murdered by ISIS than anyone else.

TODD: So let me just, clear something up, do you think that the United States needs to send more troops over there?

FIORINA: Not yet, special forces perhaps

TODD: More training, is this-

FIORINA: Not more training, you’re not hearing me. Our Sunni Arab Allies, and the Kurds have fighting forces on the ground. They have asked us for very specific things. We have not provided them. King Abdullah II of Jordan has been bombing ISIS for 18 months now. He has asked us for bombs and material for his troops. We are not providing that, so he is going to the Chinese. How self-defeating is that? The Egyptians who are fighting ISIS as we speak, remember when President el-Sisi starts bombing, when ISIS beheads twenty-one Coptic Christians on Egyptian Beaches? Not only that, he goes into Cairo, he addresses them, he tells them that there is a cancer in the heart of Islam that is the truth, he has been asking us for support. He has been asking us to share intelligence, we’re not, I will. There are many things we have been asked to do by our allies in this region that we are not doing.

TODD: So you think there is a whole bunch of things you can do before the last resort of we have got to do a surge?

FIORINA: That’s right, and we haven’t tried any of them. We haven’t tried any of them. That’s what I mean when I say that Obama provides a false choice always. Don’t agree with me in Iran and ISIS or rush off to war. It’s a false choice.

TODD: Okay let’s move to Iran. You said something interesting, you said the worlds moved on. You are very critical of the deal. I read that as saying you assume that you can’t really scrap the deal if you get into office.

FIORINA: Oh I actually think something different. What I was actually trying to say is this. Even if congress votes this deal down, and I sincerely hope that they will, the rest of the world has moved on in terms of the money flow. China and Russia have never been negotiating on our side of the table, they have been negotiating on their side of the table. They have wanted for a very long time to open the Iranian economy. They’re in there. So are the Europeans. So, we must cut off the money flow. I would make two phone calls on day one in the oval office. The first would be to my good friend Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him that we will stand with the state of Israel. The second will be to the supreme leader of Iran. He might not take the phone call but the message will be clear. New deal, I don’t care what the deal was, here’s the new deal. Until you open-

TODD: How are you going to do this, it is an international agreement?

FIORINA: I don’t care, frankly Chuck. Because the international agreement that was negotiated is not in our interests. So the new deal will be this, The United States of America will make it as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system unless and until you open every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime anywhere inspections. We can do that. The United States of America needs no one’s permission.

TODD: The Iranians may sit there and say well, the rest of the world is doing business with us, we’ll deal with it-

FIORINA: But if we make it very difficult for them to move money by saying, for example, to every bank, “if you do business in Iran, or with the Iranians, you won’t do business with the US”. That will have an impact. We can continue to cut their access off to the swift global payment system. We need to do that. This is a terrible deal. Iran will use the money, to fund their proxies, to sew conflict in the Middle East which has been their thirty year strategic goal, and they will move forward towards a nuclear weapon.

TODD: Could you ever have come to a deal, no matter how tough the deal you could have negotiated, was there any part of the deal that wasn’t going to give money to the Iranians?

FIORINA: Yes but we didn’t get anything in return. President Obama says, “What’s the alternative,” well the alternative is a better deal. He broke every rule of negotiation. I have never negotiated a nuclear deal, but I have negotiated a lot of really big deals and there are some cardinal rules. Number one, know what your goals are and stick to them. President Obama laid out a set of goals and rolled on every single one of them. Number two, walk away from the table. Because if you don’t walk away, nobody will believe that you’re serious. We never walked away, we just talked and talked and talked.

TODD: Should we have walked away at least once?

FIORINA: My rule is at least three times. You don’t have a deal. And rule number three, never celebrate a deal until you have the deal that you want. When President Obama walks into the rose garden celebrating a deal before it is a deal, what are the Iranians going to say? We got him, he is now publically committed and we are going to spend the next four months negotiating a better deal for us, that’s precisely what they did.

TODD: Can you run the government like a business?

FIORINA: Not precisely, because we have three co-equal branches of government. On the other hand, there are some disciplines that come from business that matter in every organization. Whether it is a charity, a think tank or a government. So, for example- you need to know where your money is being spent. We have no idea where our money is being spent. How is it possible that the federal government spends more money every year, has done so for almost 50 years under republicans and democrats alike, by the way. And yet, every time they are asked to do something important they need more money. We need to build up our military, sorry we need more money. We need to answer tax-payer questions on tax-day, sorry we need more money. We need to secure the border, sorry we need more money. We need to repair roads and bridges, sorry we need more money. This is why people are utterly frustrated. Seventy five percent of the American people now think that the federal government is corrupt, eighty percent of the American people think that we have a professional political class that says whatever is necessary to get elected.

TODD: Do you agree with that?

FIORINA: Yes I do, it is why I am running for president. And yet, nothing ever changes.

TODD: Why, you’re running as a political outsider-

FIORINA: I am a political outsider!

TODD: I don’t want to say this but in the last 7 years as an advisor for John McCain, you ran for the US senate, you worked at the NRSC, a fundraising arm for the republican party, that sounds like somebody who has wanted to become a member of the professional political class.

FIORINA: No I think it sounds like someone who believes this is a citizen government. It was always intended to be a citizen government. And so citizens have to be engaged in the process. Of governance and politics. We need more citizens in politics, we have too many professional politicians. And the vast majority of American people say, “We’re delighted that you haven’t been on the inside in Washington. We’re delighted that you haven’t held elected office before”. What all those experiences say is that I understand how the process works, that’s important. I have relevant experience. I also understand how the economy works, how the world works. How bureaucracies work, which is important because the government is a vast, bloated, inept bureaucracy. And I get how technology works, which is matters as well.

TODD: Donald Trump likes to criticize your business career. Is your business experience better than his? Or more applicable to presidency than his?

FIORINA: You know, I started out as a secretary in a nine person real estate firm. I went on to lead, what we turned into, the largest technology company in the world. Here’s the thing about a public company, everything is public record. We have to report our results in excruciating detail every 90 days, and we have to report what we’re going to do in excruciating detail. And then I have to stand, as a CEO and answer questions, any question. I can be held criminally liable if I misrepresent our results. Imagine if we held politicians to that standard. My point is this- the democrats, Donald Trump, they can say whatever they want about my record but here are the facts. We took a company from forty four billion and doubled it in revenues. We quadrupled the revenue growth rate.

TODD: It wasn’t very profitable though-

FIORINA: It was vastly more profitable when I left it than when I found it. We went from lagging behind to leading in every product category and every market segment. We tripled innovation to over eleven patents a day, we did all of that. During the worst technology recession in 25 years. That is public record. And by the way, some of our most formidable competitors disappeared- Sun Microsystems, Gateway Computer. It was my mission to transform a company from a lager to a leader so it could prosper, and Hewlett Packard continues to prosper and grow. I will run on that track record all day long, people do not get to make up their own facts.

TODD: I am going to give you a chance to respond to something, earlier this week Andrew Ross Sorkin column in the New York Times, and he quoted Jeffery Sonnenfeld a senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, and he was pretty tough on you. He said, “Experience can be a badge of honor or a badge of shame,” and he said, he compared you, you were tenured, to the captain that caused the shipwreck of Carnivals Costa Concordia in 2012. He will never be trusted with a public leadership role, captains of the industry must also be held accountable.

FIORINA: Well I was held accountable, absolutely. Stand by my record. It is also true that Jeffery Sonnenfeld has been critical of me from the moment I arrived at HP, he’s a close advisor of Bill Clinton, I am not at all surprised. He has been saying that for 15 years. The conventional wisdom is frequently wrong. I will stand by my record.

TODD: Let me go back to Donald Trump here. Do you think his business record, do you think you’re getting more scrutiny for your business record than he is. Or do you think that’s fair.

FIORINA: You know what’s interesting? I have been in the North Country of New Hampshire all week, I have been out in Iowa all week, last week. I have never been asked a single question about Donald Trump by a voter. The only people who ask me about Donald Trump are the media. I think the media is kind of obsessed with Donald Trump honestly, and I think Donald Trump is using the media. So, what I care about is what voters ask me. Voters ask me about my business record, voters more often will ask me what I will do to actually fix the festering problems that have been in government for twenty five years. Every election cycle we talk about the same things. We talk about immigration. We talk about debts and deficits. We talk about the same things, and yet, it never changes. What people look to me for, is a track record of problem solving and leadership and getting things done. That is what I will bring to the Whitehouse.

TODD: I know you don’t want to talk more about Donald Trump, but the issue of birthright citizenship came up, I am not clear on your position. You seem to be for, if the constitution were to get changed, you would be okay with that but it’s not worth doing. Will you explain where you are on this issue?

FIORINA: I don’t agree that we should be trying to amend the constitution. And by the way, this has been talked about for twenty years as well, you see, Donald Trump may not be a politician but he sure is acting like a politician in this regard. There are two fundamental things that must be done and they never were done. We must secure our border. It is not rocket science, it is our job to do it, not anybody else job to do it. It takes money, manpower and technology. It hasn’t been done in 25 years. We must fix the legal immigration system, which is contributing to this problem. So we have people come on illegal visas, they overstay, nobody does anything about it. We hand out border crossing cards for a day, we never check if anybody comes home. We do not have an employer verification system that works. Every single one of the problems I mentioned has been festering for 25 years, but what do politicians do. Every election cycle they hold up some bright shiny object. Oh let’s talk about birthright citizenship. Even if you like that idea, the chances of you getting a constitutional amendment passed, the chances of having the 14th amendment overturned by the Supreme Court are extremely small. So let us focus our political energies on doing what the government is responsible for doing. Secure the border and fix the legal immigration system. That is what my priorities will be.

TODD: What do you do with the [inaudible]?

FIORINA: Well once we get through securing the border, and fixing the legal immigration system, then we can have that conversation. By the way, it is in that order.

TODD: Okay, I understand that order, but why, I have had a lot of candidates not want to tell me what they are going to do.

FIORINA: interrupting I am going to tell you-

TODD: Okay, what do you do after?

FIORINA: Yeah, but we always jump over it. We always say we’re going to get to it but we never do. We have to fix the first two things first. For many reasons. A- because they’re festering problems and B- because as long as we don’t fix them, people lack faith in their government. And that is a bad thing for a citizen government. When we have done those things, building consensus, and capability and confidence along the way, then we have to deal with those folks. My own view is, if you have come here illegally and stayed here illegally, you do not have an opportunity to earn a pathway to citizenship. To legal status, perhaps. But I think that there must be consequence. I know a lot of people who have worked hard to earn the privilege of citizenship. Many Hispanics among them. They have studied our history, taken the oath, they have worked to earn the privilege of citizenship. You cannot say to them that there is no consequence for breaking the rules.

TODD: You still have a great admiration and respect for Hillary Clinton.

FIORINA: In many ways I do. She is a hardworking woman, she’s an intelligent woman. She has dedicated herself to public service. It is also true, however, that she is not trustworthy. That she has lied about some key things, Benghazi, her email, her server. And she doesn’t have the track record-

TODD: Lying is a big charge, do we know, do you know, how do you know she’s lying?

FIORINA: Oh for heaven’s sake, the night of the Benghazi attacks, we now know that the state department and the Whitehouse knew that this was a purposeful and preplanned terrorist attack. Nevertheless, the next morning she went into the state department, and she addressed the American people and talked about a video, that did not represent the values of this nation. Several days later she said the same thing over the bodies of the fallen. What she should have said was, “this was a purposeful terrorist attack, and we will seek retribution”.

TODD: So you believe that she purposefully lied.

FIORINA: Absolutely, I do.

TODD: You also said something about her 2008 candidacy about a debt of gratitude.

FIORINA: Because she was showing women-

TODD: Would you be taken as seriously running for president today without her race in 2008?

FIORINA: Perhaps not! She was the first serious woman candidate, for president. We do owe her a debt of gratitude. I, unlike liberal women, liberal women have called my candidacy an offense to women. Okay, unlike liberal women, I celebrate every woman’s right to live the life that she chooses. I stand up and cheer for every woman, whether I agree with her politically or not. When she chooses to use all of her gifts, fulfil her potential and follow her dream. So there is nothing inconsistent about me saying that I admire Hillary Clinton in many ways, that we owe her a debt of gratitude in many ways, and also saying I do not believe that she should be President of the United States and I will use all of my energy as our nominee to defeat her.

TODD: In your home state of California, the draught, the wildfires, more evidence is coming out from the scientific community that says climate change has made this worse. Not to say that the draught has directly caused, just that is has made it worse.

FIORINA: You know what has also made it worse? Politicians. Liberal politicians who have stood up for forty years, as the population of California doubled, and said you cannot build a new reservoir, and you cannot build a water conveyer system. And so, for forty years, seventy percent of rainfall has washed out to sea, that’s pretty dumb, when you know you’re going to have draughts every single year, or every three years let’s say. It’s also the result of politicians who have decided when, finally, a bipartisan agreement was reached in Sacramento about how to manage scarce water resources, and balance environmental considerations with economic development considerations. When Washington D.C intervened and said, “nope, you cannot manage your own water,” we’ve got this fish now that we think is endangered, we’re going to manage your water from Washington D.C. Politicians have made this immeasurably worse, and they are destroying the agriculture industry of California.

TODD: So the other day I asked Governor Jerry Brown to respond to that exact criticism that you made. I said that you blamed liberal environmentalists in California, specifically in dams and reservoirs. This is how he responded.

VIDEO CLIP: Jerry Brown: I never heard of such utter ignorance. Whether we need a dam or two is one thing, but the forest fires, the rising temperatures, and the dryness, that’s an atmospheric fact of life. Building a dam won’t do a damn thing about fires, or climate change, or the absence of moisture in the ground in vegetation in California. So, I think these people, if they want to run for President, better do kind of eighth grade science before they make any more utterances.

FIORINA: That’s a lot of insults, but of course it makes no sense what he just said. It would be helpful if you we’re fighting fires to have more water. Firefighters in California have difficulty getting enough water now so they are using other means. It would be helpful to agriculture and everything else to have water saved in the good years, so that you could use it in the bad years. I’m not denying that California’s air is dry, that’s obvious. I’m not denying that there is a draught. But there is no denying that politicians have made this problem immeasurably worse, and meanwhile, while Jerry Brown is spending millions of dollars building a high speed train, that nobody wants, that has environmental impact as well. We could be spending that money to build a reservoir, to build water conveyer systems, so this doesn’t happen again.

TODD: Final question, you at HP made it a policy that any job opening, any senior job opening that you had to interview a woman, and a minority-

FIORINA: We had to have a diverse slate of qualified candidates.

TODD: Is that a pledge that you will make for every position you will appoint as president?

FIORINA: Yes because that is how you get a meritocracy. When you build an environment, in which merit is rewarded, then it is not about seniority like it is in the federal government.

TODD: But every position you interview for will-

FIORINA: Yes, a diversified-

TODD: There will always be a minority and a woman candidate as well as white males?

FIORINA: Yes, we need a diverse set of candidates, and when you do that you build a meritocracy. And when you build a meritocracy, and the federal government by the way is not a meritocracy. Frequently, positions are appointed based on how much money somebody raises. Or it is a seniority system, it depends on how long you have had your job, not what you’re producing. We have to move to a meritocracy. And in a real meritocracy, everyone can rise.

TODD: Alright, let me give you a Facebook question here. Mark Christopher wanted to ask you this. “Ms. Fiorina, having experience in the technology field what would you do to implement true cyber security for our nations core infrastructure? And would you put our nation on a cyber-offensive?”

FIORINA: Yes. So yes, I would by the way. First of all, there is a level of collaboration that is required between the private sector and the public sector. To detect and repel attacks. That requires an act of congress. There is a bill that has been languishing frankly, in congress for several years now. We need to get that bill passed so that level of collaboration is possible. Second, it is important to recognize that these cyber-attacks that have been going on against the federal government systems, none of those are a surprise. I chaired the advisor board at the CIA for several years, we have known for over a decade that the Chinese were coming after our most important systems.

TODD: Russians too.

FIORINA: Yes, absolutely. It was ineptitude that the office of personnel management was hacked. They were warned about basic vulnerabilities in their system, and they just didn’t do anything about it.

TODD: President Obama has said they want to retaliate against China without, basically, starting a war. What is that line?

FIORINA: I think President Obama first, instead of giving speeches on how important this is, should have buckled down and asked the federal government to do its job. We understand, by the way, that four months before that cyber-attack on the office of personnel management the inspector general warned them that they had holes and vulnerabilities in their system. Basic things, like two step authentication, weren’t going on. So, gosh, we are the most technologically sophisticated nation in the world, we ought to be able to protect ourselves.

TODD: Should we retaliate?

FIORINA: We ought to make it very painful for the Chinese to be aggressive in cyber warfare, so yes.

TODD: Thank you.

FIORINA: Thank you.