One of the running themes of the Republican presidential primary debates has been the competition between candidates to make the strongest, sternest, and most iron-jawed promises about staring down Vladimir Putin, whose geopolitical belligerence can apparently be neutralized by “standing firm” and “standing up” and having “strength.” (Obama’s signature approach to foreign policy, the “Bed-Wetting Coward Doctrine,” is not popular with this crew.) It was in this context at Tuesday night’s Fox Business Network debate in Milwaukee that Carly Fiorina bragged about having met Putin face to face as an equal and mocked Donald Trump for having purportedly only interacted with the Russian leader in the chummy environment of a TV show waiting room:
One of the reasons I’ve said that I would not be talking to Vladimir Putin right now—although I have met him as well, not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting.
(LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)
One of the reasons I’ve said I wouldn’t be talking to Vladimir Putin right now is because we are speaking to him from a position of weakness brought on by this administration, so, I wouldn’t talk to him for awhile.
(Incidentally, it doesn’t seem like the Trump comment that Fiorina was referring to was actually meant to imply that Trump met Putin in a green room, only that their taped interviews had been featured on the same 60 Minutes episode.)
As had been documented by prior reports, however, Fiorina’s interaction with Putin actually took place while they were waiting in the same room to give speeches at a 2001 conference—or, in other words, they met in a green room. Today a spokeswoman sort of explained why this was, well … I don’t know:
Fiorina’s campaign confirmed that the meeting took place in a green room, but Press Secretary Anna Epstein drew a distinction between one at a conference and a green room at a TV show.
“Yes she met him in a green room, but not in a green room before a show,” Epstein said in an email to ABC News. “It was before a conference.”
Imagine being Anna Epstein and having to say this stuff. What a world.