Editor’s Note: S.E. Cupp is co-host of “Crossfire,” which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays on CNN. She is also the author of “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity,” co-author of “Why You’re Wrong About the Right,” a columnist at the New York Daily News and a political commentator for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
S.E. Cupp interviews former Senate candidate Carly Fiorina about her new initiative
Fiorina is launching Unlocking Potential (UP) Project, which will focus on female voters
Utilizing the latest technology, it will rally GOP women in key states for the Senate race
Fiorina's project is a direct response to Democrats' "War on Women' campaign
Today, former Senate candidate and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced a new initiative called the Unlocking Potential (UP) Project, which will organize conservative and Republican women in key states to educate and turn out voters.
According to Fiorina, the UP Project will engage women at the grassroots level to help conservatives close the gender and technology gap. It will utilize cutting-edge technology and techniques to target, persuade and turn out female voters in six key states with competitive 2014 Senate races: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia.
This morning, I spoke with Fiorina about the effort and whether or not she has any future plans to run for office.
S.E. Cupp: Is this a direct response to the Democrats’ “War on Women” campaign strategy?
Carly Fiorina: Yes, exactly. And the idea really came to me when I spoke at CPAC earlier this year. In my speech, I took on the “War on Women” directly, and the response was overwhelming. I heard from so many women saying this is what they needed. It can help deliver their messages and provide resources to get them mobilized.
Cupp: It sounds like you’re talking about dispatching an army of women to go door-to-door. I can’t decide if that’s a retro approach or a modern one.
Fiorina: Well, I think one of the things that we learned in both the Obama campaign and the tea party movement – so, truly polar opposites – is that they engaged people on the ground in a very personal manner, with personal outreach. And that’s what works. And it particularly works with women. They are persuaded by other women they know.
Cupp: So, no parachuting in at the last minute, running an ad, and expecting women to turn out?
Fiorina: No. All the data says that people are most persuaded by people they know. We are going to engage people in the communities where they live and work, train them where they are, and measure the results so we know what’s working. That matters a lot.
Cupp: So is it old-fashioned grass roots campaigning?
Fiorina: Well, it’s modern in that we’re using technology to train our messengers and broaden our messages. But the politics of personal relationships still matters the most.
Cupp: So Democrats will merely say, “Candidate X opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act. Candidate X is against women.” It won’t matter, by the way, if Candidate X is a woman herself. How should conservatives combat this?
Fiorina: I think in some cases we just have to take on the facts. There are plenty of laws in place today that a woman can look to if she’s truly discriminated against at work, where she’s actually earning less for the same job as her male counterpart.
So the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – these are tokens. They’re gestures. They don’t truly help women advance.
We can’t avoid the factual arguments, because they’re on our side.
Cupp: Are women single-issue voters?
Fiorina: Absolutely not. Of course, there are some people – men and women – who truly vote on single issues. But they are not a majority, and certainly not a majority of women. Women make up 53% of the vote, and their views are as broad and diverse as are men’s. Most women care about jobs and the economy, and the polls bear this out.
And you know, even when the issue is life and choice, most women think that abortion after five months is egregious.
Cupp: So what hasn’t the GOP been doing right to target women voters?
Fiorina: It’s not a question of doing things wrong. It’s a question of leaving things out.
First, all of the ads that run are very helpful, but they’re not as helpful as an effective grassroots plan. Sometimes we talk at a high level about policies and principles, but we need to bring it down to a personal level. We talk a lot about less taxes and less regulation – as principles. But if you’re a single mom with two kids and you’re trying to open a hair dressing shop, it’s going to take you over a year to deal with all the regulations to do that, and you have a tax code that’s thousands of pages long. You might get discouraged. We’re destroying more businesses than we’re creating in this country.
Cupp: Do Republican male candidates need “sensitivity training”?
Fiorina: (Laughs) Sometimes men know these are sensitive, hot-button issues and so they’re afraid to deal with them. And some, not many, really do put their foot in their mouth.
It’s not that women don’t listen to men. They do. But they also listen to other women. So it’s less about who’s doing something wrong and more about what’s missing. We need to be more empathetic and less judgmental. We need to be more optimistic.
Cupp: Do Republicans need to nominate a woman to defeat Hillary?
Fiorina: I don’t want to say that necessarily. If a woman emerges, that’s terrific. But we can’t let this ridiculous charge stand. We just can’t. We have to deal with it head on for 2014, never mind 2016.
Cupp: Any plans to run again yourself?
Fiorina: You never know! I never close off any possibility in life. And when people encourage you to do it you have to think about it. But right now I’m focused on the UP Project and getting candidates elected for 2014.