Carly Fiorina

Remarks at the 2015 Unite IE Conservative Conference- Feb. 21, 2015

Carly Fiorina
February 21, 2015— Riverside, California
Unite IE Conservative Conference
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Well good morning? How's everybody? Good!

Whenever I hear an introduction like that it's so gracious and complimentary and in kind of makes it sound like life is one smooth ascent. Of course it's not. So I want to tell you a little bit about my story because it is the American story. When I was a little girl my mother was my Sunday school teacher, when I was eight years old. Don't worry this won't take too long. And she gave to me and her other students a plaque that said, “What you are is God's gift to you, what you make of yourself is your gift to God”. I didn't feel particularly gifted as a child. I was kind of goody two-shoes, middle child. But those words kind of rang in my ear, and I went off to, eventually to, Stanford University. But I graduated from Stanford with a degree in medieval history and philosophy [laughter]. All dressed up and nowhere to go, however it did come in handy the other week at the prayer breakfast when our president compared Isis and the Crusades. Because on top of everything else he got the history wrong, not to mention lacking in moral clarity.

In any event I'm all dressed up nowhere to go, so I go off to law school at UCLA, I hate it, I quit after a single semester and now I need to earn a living full-time. So I went back to work full-time doing what I had done part time to help put myself through school. I was a secretary. I typed, and I filed, and I answered the phones. Many of you in the audience perhaps remember Kelly girls. We were temporary office personnel. I'm dating myself, but I had one the best jobs I had when I was a Kelly girl in college was to type in the shipping department of Hewlett Packard for the summer. And the big technology innovation at that time was the IBM Selectric typewriter.

My granddaughters have no idea what I'm talking about. Anyway, I was hired by a little 9 person real estate firm. And I sat in the front nine typed and found the answer the phones. And after about six months two men came to my desk and said, “You know we've been watching you, we think maybe you could do more than type and file, want to know what we do?” And that set my life on a different course because somebody took a chance on me, because somebody saw possibilities in me. And because they saw possibilities in me, I saw potential in myself. It is only in this the greatest nation in the history of the world and on the face of the planet today it is only in the United States of America a young woman can start out typing and filing and answering the phones, and go on to become the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world. Is only possible here.

And it is possible here because our founders knew what my mother taught me. Our founders knew that everyone has God-given gifts. Our founders knew that every life has potential. And so they founded a nation on what at the time was a radical and is still a visionary idea. That here everyone has the right to fulfill their potential. That's what they meant when they said life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Here everyone has the right to fulfil their potential. Everyone has the right to find their God-given gifts and use them. And our founders said those are rights that come from God and should not be taken away by man or government.

I have seen lots of things all over the world. I came, maybe three weeks ago, I was in the slums of New Delhi because we have clients there at Opportunity International. I don't know of any you've been to the slums of New Delhi but they are grim places. Mountains of trash, sewage in the streets, animals foraging, people living on top of each other. And I went to visit some of our clients and the midst this desperation I met brave, beautiful women, closed in bright colors. And in their eyes I did not see desperation, in their eyes I saw hope and determination and focus and confidence. Why? Because someone had taken a chance on them. Someone had said you have value, you have gifts, you have potential, and we are going to help you fulfill your potential. So we give them loans, and training, and support.

It is exactly the opposite of the look that I saw during my senate campaign here in the state of California, in too many eyes in this state. And I remember in particular going to the town of Mendota. Mendota is in the Central Valley, you know the Central Valley. The most productive farmland in the world that has been ruined by Liberal government policies and by bureaucrats 3,000 miles away [applause]. And it is not just, it is not just the agricultural land that has been ruined, it's not just that you see, as you know, if you drive up Highway five it's not just that you see miles and miles and mounds and mounds of shriveled up dead almond trees. That once were worked by hard-working Californians. It's that lives and livelihoods have been destroyed at the altar of liberal ideology. And the look that I saw in the eyes of the men of Mendota it was not hopeful, it was not confident, it was not focused, it was not determined. It was flat-eyed and hollow. Because someone 3,000 miles away had said you don't have potential. We would rather protect fish, flies, and frogs, then to give you a chance to support your family and to live a life a dignity and purpose and meaning.

And this is what enrages me most about liberals, they talk about caring for people, but in truth they do not believe as we believe. We believe that no one of us is any better than any other one of us. We believe that everyone has God-given gifts. We believe that every life has value, every life has potential, and that everyone does indeed in this country, have the right to fulfil their potential. Liberals don't believe that. I remember when the teachers union struck in Chicago. Rahm Emanuel had just become mayor and the teachers union strikes there over the issue of accountability in the classroom. And the head of the teachers union takes to the microphones and she says this, “we cannot be held accountable for the performance of children in our classrooms because to many up them are poor and come from broken families”. So what did she mean by that? What she meant is if you are poor and you come from a broken family, you don't have potential. That is not what we believe, that is not what we believe.

And so I believe that we must once again become a nation of limitless possibility for everyone in America. It is that sense limitless possibility for our nation, for ourselves, for our families, for our children and grandchildren, that sense of limitless possibility is who we are. Yet as I travel across the country and I have been traveling across the country for many, many years, I sense a deep disquiet. Because I think, people think, we are losing that sense a limitless possibility. And when we lose that, when too many people in this nation, as is true in this state, when too many people in this nation feel as though their lives are not defined by possibility, their lives are defined by constraint and limitations, and too many are those constraints and limitations are put on them by government we are losing the core of who we are.

California is the test case it is the proof positive up what happens when liberals are in charge for too long. California, those hollow eyed men in Mendota. California is now home to 111 billionaires, and the highest poverty rates in the nation. So the liberals talk about income inequality, come see it in California. Because meanwhile too many up the middle class have exited, too many young families have exited. Too many businesses small, medium and large have exited. You know these facts, but the rest of the world needs to know these facts because they are the clear result what happens when liberals are in charge. So in order to return a sense limitless possibility to every American we must do some fundamental things. And they require, not a tinkering around the edges of government, they require a fundamental reform of government.

We have to, for example, disentangle the web up dependence that too many Americans are trapped in. Liberals, you know, liberals think some of us are smarter than others. Some of us are better than others. Some of you actually don't have the capacity to live a life of dignity, and purpose, and meaning but don’t worry we’re to take care of you. And the truth is everyone wants to live a life of dignity, and purpose, and meaning, and so we have to disentangle that web of dependence that too many people are trapped within. Give them a helping hand, yes, but give them the dignity and the respect that comes from work, and give them the opportunity to find their gifts.

What's another thing we have to do to fundamentally reform government? We have to acknowledge that we have the tail of two economies now. Crony capitalism is alive and well in America today. Elizabeth Warren is right when she says people aren’t getting a fair shake. She's right, but she's dead wrong about the answer to this. Because you see only the big, only the powerful, only the wealthy, and only the well-connected can deal with big-government. I was the CEO of the ninety-billion dollar company. I may not have liked the regulations, I may not have liked the complexity of the tax code but I could deal with it. I could handle it, I could hire more accountants or lawyers or lobbyists. But that little nine-person real estate firm that I started out in, they can’t handle it. And so what we see going on in the country right now, the stock market hit yet another all-time high, big companies are doing great in fact been companies are getting bigger but what's happening to small businesses, family-owned businesses. And they are the engine of economic growth in this country, they always have been. Small businesses create two-thirds of the new jobs they employ half the people. Small businesses are getting crushed. In fact for the first time in US history we are now destroying more businesses then we are creating. We are making it too hard for the corner coffee shop, the taquería, the dry cleaners, the car dealers, the lawn service company, the real estate firm, were making it too hard, and so small businesses are going under. And while Elizabeth Warren talks a lot about crony capitalism, what is her answer? Let's do even more Dodd-Frank. But of course what did Dodd- Frank do? It took ten banks too big to fail and turned them into five banks too big to fail. And now the community banking system, which is where family-owned businesses and small businesses get their lines of credit, the community banking system is on its back. We cannot get this economy going and growing again. We cannot rebuild the middle class. We cannot have prosperity and opportunity for all Americans unless we fundamentally reform government, and that starts with a fundamental simplification of our tax code and our regulatory structure.

And we can tinker around the edges, we can't tinker around the edges. We now have to have the courage, the imagination, the vision, the leadership, to see that fundamental reform requires us to think differently. About what our government does, who does it, where the money goes. Let me just give you a simple example of this. You know we live in aged technology. I like to remind people that the iPhone was introduced in 2007. Less than a decade ago and yet it has transformed our lives. Do you see any that transformation going on in the federal government? How do you feel when you go through the TSA? How do you feel the DMV? I can deliver to one of those destitute women in India, I can deliver a line of credit to her over a cell phone. But if you are a veteran, if you return from the battlefield, you are going to spend many months filling out paperwork. You're going to spend many more months while some bureaucrat decides whether your paperwork is in order, and whether you actually get the benefits that you have already earned. And then you're going to spend many more months waiting in line to get an appointment. And this ladies and gentleman has been going on for decades. And what do our representatives in Washington do? They stand up in a bipartisan way and they pass a bill that says that the top senior executives at the VA should be fired if they don't perform. Really this is the best we can do? It's not that that isn't a good thing to do, it's just it should have been done decades ago. We have to fundamentally reform government. We have no idea where our money is being spent, all we do really is argue about the rate of increase. And while the iPhone has transformed every industry, the regional headquarters at the Veterans Administration in Winston-Salem North Carolina has had to have its foundations reinforce because the weight of the paperwork on the bureaucrats desk is damaging the foundations at the building. That is a true story ladies and gentleman and that is why we need fundamental reform because our government has become too powerful, too costly, too complicated, too corrupt, just plain too inefficient, and ineffective and it is now crushing the potential about this great nation.

When I think about what has been going on in Washington for a very long time I think about the difference between managers and leaders. Managers are people who do the best they can within existing constraints and conditions. Leaders are people who change constraints and conditions. Leaders are people who change the order of things because we do not except what is broken simply because it has always been that way. And speaking on leadership we need to restore

American leadership in the world. We need to declare, we need to declare, without apology or equivocation that this indeed is the greatest nation history has ever known and we are a force for good in the world.

I have had like, Hillary Clinton, the great pleasure flying hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. Unlike Hillary Clinton apparently, I know that flying is an activity not an accomplishment. Mrs. Clinton’s staff member was asked to name a single accomplishment she had as Secretary of State, it drew a blank stare and no response. I've sat across the table from Vladimir Putin. You don't have to spend very much time with them and understand that his ambition will not be changed by a gimmicky red reset button. I have served as chair of the advisory board for the Central Intelligence Agency and so I know for example that China, where I have done business for many years, China, Russia, North Korea are indeed state sponsors of cyberwarfare. I remember sitting in Bibi Netanyahu’s office in 2010, 5 years ago. And what Bibi Netanyahu wanted to speak about then was Iran. And so he is coming here next week, the week after, to speak about Iran. Not to poke a stick in President Obama's eyes, but because we need to hear. And I know as well, King Abdullah of Jordan, and think about what he did when a Jordanian pilot is burned alive. What does he do? He immediately returns to his country, he executes without delay and without apology, to convicted terrorists and he start bombing. Contrast this, contrast this, Mrs. Clinton’s response to Benghazi deliberate terrorist attack on an embassy at the United States where four brave Americans, including our ambassador, are murdered. What does she do? She apologizes for a videographer in LA, she says that we never mean to offend anyone and when that fiction runs out she declares what different does it make. If you are attacked deliberately by a terrorist it makes all the difference in the world how you respond. And what have we done since Benghazi? We've arrested one guy and he sits in a jail in Manhattan.

I mention I think there is a sense of disquiet in this nation. I think people believe we're losing something. That we're losing that sense limitless possibility that has always defined this nation. If it was worth doing, we could do it. And I think people think we're missing something. I think what people think we're missing is leadership. The leadership that has the vision and the courage. But you know what? Every problem we have can be solved. Every wound we have is self-inflicted. This can be once again America’s greatest time. It can only happen on the foundation all our unshakable conviction that every life has potential, and that everyone has got given gifts, because the potential and the American people coupled with leadership and citizenship is all we need. And so let us remember that ours was intended to be a citizen government. Ours was intended to be a government by, for and of the people. And so I think now is the time for the leadership with the courage, the conviction, the common sense, and the character, to see how we can proceed. And I think as well it is a time for citizenship. And so, let us together, rise to meet every challenge. Let us together, truly reform our government and our politics. And let us together, restore American leadership and the promise of this, the greatest nation history has ever known.

Thank you so very much ladies and gentleman. Thank you so much, god bless you.

HOST: Thank you so much Carly for being here, and we hope that she will consider a future run. We won't ask you that question today. But just listening to you, we hope.

FIORINA: Okay maybe you're going to have a chance to vote for me now.

HOST: I think you have a lot of people in this room who would do just that. So just a quick question for you, know you've worked on Senator McCain's campaign, you ran your own campaign for Senate, we sure hope that you're considering a future campaign here but, what is there, is there one thing, maybe two things that you think can catapult a conservative candidate, either in the state of California for senate or presidential candidates so that we can get the GOP back in power?

FIORINA: So first, I am I'm not trying to be coy I am giving very serious consideration to run for the White House. We have to win in 2016, we have to win. And I think to win, we need a conservative who can unite this party. And only a conservative can unite this party. I think we need a conservative who can land our values, and our principles and our beliefs in other people's lives. So that people who may not know they’re conservative say they care about me. My mother used to say to me you know nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care. We do care, and we have to be able to convey that to people, in our policies, in our tone, in our language. So we have to unify our party and then we have to reach out beyond our party and we have to have, as well, not just a conservative, not just someone who has the heart for every American, but we also must have ladies and gentlemen a fearless competitor who will take the fight to the other side every time.

HOST: Thank you so much ladies and gentlemen one more time, Carly Fiorina thank you so much for being here.

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