The XX Factor

On the View, Carly Fiorina Bashes Hillary Clinton for Pulling the Gender Card

Carly Fiorina in Aiken, South Carolina, in October.

Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

After telling the hosts of The View to “man up” earlier this week, Carly Fiorina appeared on The View this morning in defense mode. Through video feed from New Hampshire, Fiorina sparred with the liberal-leaning hosts over reproductive rights, minimum wage, and jokes about Fiorina’s appearance, which the candidate has used to gin up donations in recent emails.

Host Joy Behar was quick to call out inconsistencies in Fiorina’s statements about women. “You believe a feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses…yet it seems to me that you are against programs that let women make choices for their lives,” Behar said, pointing to Fiorina’s opposition to Roe v. Wade, universal paid maternity leave, and raising the minimum wage. Fiorina called Behar’s list of issues “the litany of the left,” which says “the only way you can be pro-woman is to agree with the left’s prescription for women.”

It’s hard to imagine a world in which paid family leave for all workers isn’t pro-woman, but Fiorina’s imagination has cleared higher hurdles than that. “Whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life…the majority of Americans are horrified by the reality that we’re harvesting baby parts through late-term abortions,” she said. The View’s hosts were having none of it. “Carly, you know no one’s harvesting baby parts,” interrupted host Whoopi Goldberg. Behar chimed in: “That offends my sensibility to hear you say something like that when you know it’s not true.”

Then, Fiorina moved on to minimum wage. “Let’s ask ourselves why women do better in a meritocracy,” she said. “Women do better when they’re paid not for time and grade but where they’re paid…for what they produce. … Government and union jobs pay on seniority.” She claimed that a meritocracy—which rewards that good ol’ fashioned, pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps work ethic, a mythological means of social mobility—is what got her “from a secretary to a CEO.”

Fiorina doesn’t think women should get special treatment at all: not when they need time off to recover from childbirth or care for an infant, and certainly not when they’re running for president. She claims her most formidable potential Democratic opponent is leaning too heavily on the gender card. “I think Hillary Clinton has made a case for her candidacy based on being the first woman president,” Fiorina said. “On the other hand, I would never ask people to vote for me just because I’m a woman.” What should Clinton talk about instead? The real issues, Fiorina says, like Benghazi and Clinton’s private emails:

The best part of Fiorina’s segment came when she addressed the comment she made at the last Republican debate about people telling her to smile more. “Do you have people coaching you to act a different way?” asked host Michelle Collins. Fiorina demurred, defending her capacity for joy and humor. “I love to smile and laugh,” she said, “but there’s a time to smile and there’s a time to be serious.”

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the GOP primary. 

Correction, Nov. 6, 2015: This post originally misquoted Fiorina; she said, “When you’re talking about burying a child, it is not time to smile,” not bearing. The reference to the misquotation has been removed.