One of the things I am looking forward to the most from Wednesday’s debate is seeing Trump on the stage with Carly Fiorina. Fiorina responded to Trump’s swipe last week at her looks with a pretty brilliant social media ad that carries a simple yet profound message:
You can tell that the video left a mark because of the way that Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was completely unable to respond to it. Lewandowski was on CNN this morning to talk about the debate and his response to the interviewer’s question about the ad was a tour de force of missing the point and refusing to answer the question that was actually asked:
Host: So one of the things that Donald Trump has been discussing, or that he’s discussed at least once with Rolling Stone was Carly Fiorina’s face. I know you don’t need me to, but let me read you back exactly what he told Rolling Stone. He said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
Well now, Corey, a Super PAC backing Carly Fiorina has sort of capitalized on that statement and put out a new campaign video. I want you to watch this for just a few seconds.
Host: I’m proud of every wrinkle, and of course, if you watch more of that video, it actually shows different faces of different women saying, “Look at this face, this is my face,” a lot of references about faces. Corey, your reaction?
CL: Well, look, I think here’s the problem, is you’ve got a super PAC, uh, which is a bunch of anonymous donors giving money to someone and then they go out and can make any claims that they want to, and they’re perfectly able to do that. This is the issue, is these candidates are all beholden to these super PACs, Jeb Bush has raised 100 million dollars, we know they are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars going after Mr. Trump. This is everything that’s wrong with the American political system right now, is these candidates go out…
Host: It’s wrong?
CL: .. Raise money, they go out, and raise money for super PACs, and then they say, “Well, we really don’t have anything to do with these super PACs so they can go out and say whatever they want.
Host: It’s… It’s wrong for, a, uh, group to say, “Hey, uh, we’re women, look at our faces, we support Carly Fiorina?”
CL: No, it’s not,
CL: It’s not the message I’m talking about, it’s the fact that these super PACs are out there, they’re being… they have huge amounts of money being funneled into them so they can go out and attack candidates if that’s what they want to do or give any message they want, that’s fine, but the difference with Mr. Trump is, we don’t have super PACs. We’re not raising money. We’re not beholden to these special interests. And what happens is all these other candidates want to go out and raise this money and then they’re beholden to those donors if and when they were to be elected.
Host: Well.. they’re beholden to those donors? Campaign finance is a separate issue, Corey, but so is commenting about a woman’s face. And you have this group, and you have these women in this video talking about how they feel very comfortable with their faces, you have Carly Fiorina talking about how she’s earned her wrinkles, don’t they have the right to defend her, if your boss is going to attack her and her face?
CL: Look, super PACs have the right to do that, the Supreme Court has ruled on it, they are welcome to do that, but you have to remember what a super PAC is. It’s a bunch of wealthy donors who want to get together who want to say a message that traditionally, you know, others… uh, other campaigns don’t do, this is the problem with the dark money that’s involved in politics right now, we know Jeb Bush is 100 million dollars sitting in a super PAC, I’m sure the vast majority is going to go and come after Mr. Trump, because Jeb Bush is now at, you know, 8 per cent in the polls or less, in the last poll. This is what the American people don’t want anymore. They don’t want these super PACs.
Nowhere, of course, during Lewandowski’s rambling (and largely inaccurate) discourse on campaign finance did he address the Fiorina ad at all, or even mention Carly Fiorina. Rather, he somehow mentioned Jeb Bush twice and intimated repeatedly that having money and wanting to have your voice heard in politics is a bad thing and that Citizens United was probably wrongly decided – an especially ironic sentiment giving who his boss is.
When Fiorina and Trump share the actual same debate stage on Wednesday, I doubt she will allow him to avoid answering the question in the same way his campaign manager did. And that should be good theater for everyone involved.