Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina punched her way out of an undercard debate before. On Thursday, she tried to do it again.
After making her way onto the main debate stage in September thanks in part to a strong performance, Fiorina found herself at the undercard again, and once again she brought sharp elbows and sharper cracks to get noticed.
Fiorina, who spoke first, began the debate with gracious words for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, noting that both had won the Iowa caucuses. Then she turned her sights on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I’m not a political insider. I haven’t spent my lifetime running for office. The truth is I have been blessed by a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things in my life. And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband,” Fiorina said.
Given that few people will tune into the undercard debate, which aired at 6 p.m. Eastern, a well-delivered zinger like this getting tweeted and retweeted may be the only takeaway most people have, so Fiorina’s ability to deliver them with verve makes her as close to a winner as it will have.
Later in the debate, Fiorina trained her fire on Republican front-runner Donald Trump, calling him the “Kim Kardashian of American politics” and mocking his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Despite Donald Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Putin and Russia are our adversary,” Fiorina said.
And when the audience booed at the moderators for a question which noted that the majority of Americans favor background checks for gun purchases, Fiorina won the audience with a quick aside: “We all believe the poll data all the time, don’t we?”
Still, Fiorina was not the only one to score with a one-liner at the debate. When the debate moderators hit Santorum with a buzzer for going over his time, he joked about Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who chose to sat out the undercard.
“I know I’m out of time but I’m gonna take some of Rand Paul’s time,” he said.