WASHINGTON -- Carly Fiorina shined in the second Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, putting on a commanding performance that has earned her kudos from politicians and pundits alike. Perhaps the biggest moment of the night came when the former Hewlett-Packard CEO did what no one else on the stage could do -- put Donald Trump in his place.
"I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said," Fiorina said, referring to disparaging remarks Trump made about her appearance. She made clear that the comment was insulting not only to her, but to women everywhere.
But while Fiorina championed the cause of women at the debate, she hasn't done so where it matters most -- in her campaign platform.
The businesswoman has described equal pay bills, like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, as nothing more than "tokens" and "gestures" that do not help women advance in the workplace. Like many in the GOP, Fiorina has argued that women already have adequate laws at their disposal if they are truly discriminated against at work.
She opposes changing federal law to require companies to provide paid maternity leave, a position that is at odds with the policies of virtually every developed country on Earth.
"I'm not saying I oppose paid maternity leave. What I'm saying is I oppose the federal government mandating paid maternity leave to every company out there," she told CNN in August.
Fiorina opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger. She underscored this position at Wednesday's debate by giving a harrowing and vivid description of the controversial Planned Parenthood sting videos. The veracity of her account, in which she said she saw "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," was later called into question by Vox.
During the debate, Fiorina also came out against putting a woman on the $10 bill, which the Treasury has said it will do to honor women's contributions to American history. While her rivals on the stage said they would like to see figures like American Red Cross founder Clara Barton or civil rights leader Rosa Parks on the bill, Fiorina again said the move was nothing more than a "gesture."
"I wouldn't change the $10 bill or the $20 bill. I think honestly it's a gesture -- don't think it helps to change our history," she said. "What I would think is we ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group. Women are the majority of this nation. We are half the potential of this nation. And this nation will be better off when every woman has the opportunity to live the life she chooses."