Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton says Republican rival Carly Fiorina should not be judged any differently just because she is the only woman candidate in the Republican presidential race.
“I’m always in favor of women running,” she told TIME in an exclusive interview. “But people need to hold women’s policies up to light and determine what their answers to problems would be before deciding to support them. I’m willing to subject myself to that process and try to earn every vote; I assume any woman running would do the same.”
Clinton was responding to a question about whether Fiorina had been treated differently than other male candidates in the Republican primary. The fuller contents of the interview conducted on Friday will be included in my forthcoming book, Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works, which will be published in January.
“Obviously, I disagree fundamentally with a number of positions that she’s put forward. I think that her full-throated, inaccurate attack on Planned Parenthood was really ill-advised and inflammatory,” Clinton said of Fiorina.
Those remarks were an unusual direct criticism of Fiorina. Clinton had previously been critical of the Republican discussion of Planned Parenthood at the last debate, which included Fiorina’s description of a video that does not exist.
“Watch 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,” Fiorina said. She was describing silent video footage that was edited together with a voiceover from a separate interview. The publisher of the original footage, which doctors say could show the aftermath of an abortion or a miscarriage, has not identified the source of the video or alleged that the footage was taken from a Planned Parenthood facility.
It’s something of a milestone that there are two strong female candidates on both sides running for President this cycle, and it’s been interesting to watch how they interact with one another. Fiorina has been able to attack Clinton in ways her male rivals cannot. “[Clinton] tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights,” Fiorina told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own offices’ pay standards — and neither will our President. Hillary likes hashtags. But she doesn’t know what leadership means.”
Fiorina in recent weeks has made criticism of Planned Parenthood a central theme of her campaign, refusing to back down when reporters have repeatedly pointed out the inaccuracies of her debate claims. Fiorina herself has long scoffed at the “War on Women” slogan of Democrats. “The ‘War on Women’ is shameless, baseless propaganda. There’s no fact to it. But it’s worked because it’s scared women to death,” Fiorina told CNN last year.
Clinton has refrained from directly attacking or addressing Fiorina until now. Instead, she has long maintained that much of the Republican field would be bad representatives for women in the Oval Office. She has pointed to Marco Rubio’s antiabortion stance even in cases of rape, incest or when a mother’s life is at risk, and Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz’s opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Clinton has repeatedly sold her campaign in part based on the potentially historic nature of her candidacy. But Clinton is now arguing that a President Fiorina would be as bad as her male Republican counterparts for women. In other words, all female candidates are not created equal.
As to whether or not Fiorina is actually getting treated differently by her fellow Republican candidates, Clinton said she would let Fiorina answer the question. “She will have to speak for herself,” Clinton said.