All of a sudden I'm seeing the name Carly Fiorina a lot -- at National Journal, at the Daily Caller, at Fox Nation (which links the Daily Caller story). Fiorina is out on the campaign trail saying that female voters shouldn't pay any attention to that silly war on women behind the Republican curtain; I expect the Caller and Fox Nation to offer Fiorina a platform for that campaign message, just the way Fox brought on Ann Romney to deliver exactly the same talking points. But National Journal is supposed to be different. Yes, its editorial director is Ron Fournier, who in 2008 shilled for the campaign of John McCain, for whom Fiorina was a key adviser. But it positions itself as a down-the-middle, balanced, non-advocacy news source. Why does it consider Fiorina newsworthy now?
Well, because (we're told) she's seriously thinking of running for president:
She's been to New Hampshire three times and South Carolina once. She's heading to Iowa this weekend, and then North Carolina and Michigan after that. Clearly, Carly Fiorina is thinking about 2016.Well, if the GOP's #1 priority is winning the Senate, and she's being a good soldier for the party, then maybe she's going to all those states primarily because there's a competitive Senate race in all but one of them. Tell me more.
On the road, Fiorina is part campaign operative and part public figure. At the New Hampshire Republican Party's fall convention at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, N.H., she gave a rousing keynote speech to delegates about the party's need to convince voters of their own personal potential. (As she finished speaking, one man in the audience shouted, "Carly for president!")Okay, now I believe she's thinking about 2016. But so what? She's not going to win the nomination. She's unlikely to be a top-tier candidate. There's no evidence of grassroots support for her in the party, and she lost the only race she ever ran by 10 points. So why do we care if she's testing the waters?
Less than an hour later, she was onstage in a classroom nearby, going through a PowerPoint presentation issue-by-issue and explaining to local politicians and activists how the GOP can best talk about them: equal pay, minimum wage, women's health. Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte opened for her, and GOP congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia listened in from the audience.
"If it looks like testing the water and sounds like testing the water, it's testing the water," said GOP strategist Jim Merrill, who ran Mitt Romney's New Hampshire operations in 2012.
We care because the GOP wants her name out there now, in advance of the midterms. Is it working? Maybe:
Carly Fiorina is more serious about a WH bid than folks may realize. http://t.co/eLHmetMnvW— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 26, 2014
Is Chuckles going to book her on Meet the Press now so she can deliver her canned message about how only Democratic sillybillies think Republicans are engaged in a war on women? Is she going to get a wave of mainstream press coverage as midterms approach? If so, then mission accomplished.
During the Clinton years, James Carville talked about the "puke funnel" -- the right's pipeline for scurrilous stories (first an unsavory right-wing media outlet, then a more "legitimate" right-wing outlet, then eventually the mainstream press). This is polite puke-funneling. Both parties do it. But Republicans do it much more successfully.