As in the “undercard” Republican debate among lower-polling candidates earlier on Wednesday, Sept. 16 — click here to read about that — the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood as a result of the ongoing series of hidden-camera videos was front and center in the main event. Several candidates addressed the issue, but it was Carly Fiorina who swung hardest and connected big.
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO fought to even get on the main stage at the second GOP debate, sponsored by CNN and held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. She made the most of her opportunity, showing off a surefooted and extensive knowledge in several areas, including foreign policy.
The question also arose about shutting down the government to prevent Planned Parenthood from getting any more federal funds (and a new video dropped right in the middle of those discussions). The notion has been steadily gaining momentum as the undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress have exposed how the organization traffics in — and apparently profits from — the body parts of aborted babies by supplying them for medical research.
Also on the table was the issue of President Barack Obama’s controversial deal regarding Iran’s nuclear-energy program and the threat that the rogue Islamic nation — and state supporter of terrorism — will soon acquire nuclear weapons.
From the rush CNN transcript, here’s Fiorina’s comment on both these things to CNN correspondent Dana Bash:
Dana, I would like to link these two issues, both of which are incredibly important, Iran and Planned Parenthood.
One has something to do with the defense of the security of this nation. The other has something to do with the defense of the character of this nation. You have not heard a plan about Iran from any politician up here, here is my plan. On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend, to [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel.
The second, to the supreme leader, to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system.
We can do that, we don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary we have in this world will know that the United States in America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with our allies.
As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.
Watching Fiorina deliver these words, her voice cracking with emotion, is compelling:
Here are comments from the other candidates on defunding Planned Parenthood at the federal and state levels:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich:
Well, I agree that we should defund Planned Parenthood. I don’t know many people in America who don’t think that we should, and in my state, we’re trying to figure out how to get it done, because we are threatened with the federal government taking all of our Medicaid money away.
I think there is a way to get this done by giving governors the ability to be able to act to defund Planned Parenthood. But when it comes to closing down the federal government, you gotta be very careful about that.
When we shut the government down — if we have a chance at success and it’s a great principle, yes. The president of the United States is not going to sign this, and all we’re gonna do is shut the government down, and then we’re gonna open up — open it up, and the American people are gonna shake their heads and say, “What’s the story with these Republicans?”
So I think there is a way to get to cutting off the funding for Planned Parenthood. I was in the Congress for 18 years, balanced the budget, cut taxes, got it done. Changed welfare, went around the president to get welfare reform done.
There are ways to do it without having to shut the government down, but I’m sympathetic to the fact that we don’t want this organization to get funding, and the money ought to be reprogrammed for family planning in other organizations that don’t support this tactic.
But I would not be for shutting the government down…
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz:
Well, let me tell you, Dana, number one, I’m proud to stand for life. These Planned Parenthood videos are horrifying. I would encourage every American to watch the videos. See — seeing your Planned Parenthood officials callously, heartlessly bartering and selling the body parts of human beings, and then ask yourself, “are these my values?”
These are horrifying. On these videos, Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies. It is a felony with ten years’ jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. That’s what these videos show Planned Parenthood doing.
Absolutely we shouldn’t be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise, and I’ll tell you, the fact that Republican leadership in both houses has begun this discussion by preemptively surrendering to Barack Obama and saying, “we’ll give in because Obama threatens a veto.”
You know, Obama’s committed to his principles. His liberal principles, he will fight for them. He says…
BASH: Thank you, senator.
CRUZ: I will veto any budget that doesn’t fund Planned Parenthood, and Republicans surrender. We need to stop surrendering and start standing…
BASH: Thank you…
CRUZ: …for our principles.
Gov. Christie, a Catholic:
We’re not — what I can tell you is this. We didn’t surrender in New Jersey, six years ago, as the brand new first ever pro-life governor of New Jersey since Roe versus Wade, I defended Planned Parenthood.
And I’ve vetoed Planned Parenthood funding, now, eight times in New Jersey. Since the day I walked in as governor, Planned Parenthood has not been funded in New Jersey. We stood up and every one of those vetoes has been sustained.
But here’s the problem, we’re — we’re fighting with each other up here. We agree. Let’s ask Hillary Clinton. She believes in the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts…
CHRISTIE: …Dana, in a way that maximizes their value for sale for profit. It is disgusting, and the American people need to hear it…
BASH: But is it…
CHRISTIE: …we shouldn’t be fighting with each other. She’s the real opponent, she’s the real problem.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (a Catholic convert):
Well, [Donald Trump is] wrong on a lot of things, but on this he’s wrong because I’m the most pro-life governor on this stage. I got to act on my core beliefs. It’s part of who I am. Life is a gift from God. And from beginning end we need to respect it and err on the side of life.
And so I defunded Planned Parenthood. We created a climate where parental notification took place. We were the only state to fund crisis pregnancy centers with state moneys. We were totally focused on this. And I would bring that kind of philosophy to Washington, D.C.
So here is a solution to this. Title X of the HHS funding, there is something that was the “Reagan Rule.” It was passed in 1988. And in that rule it was defined, and the courts approved this, that a Planned Parenthood, you couldn’t separate the money between the actual abortion procedures, and there are 330,000 abortions that take place in this clinic, and their promotion of it.
He interpreted it the right way, the courts ruled in his favor, and Planned Parenthood did not get funding during that time until President Clinton came in.
When I’m elected president, we will restore that interpretation of Title X. And this deal will be finished.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (talking to the moderator, CNN correspondent Jake Tapper):
Jake, just one more moment. This is — there’s something bigger to this. Now, I — like so many other governors here, I defunded Planned Parenthood four-and-a-half years ago, in a Blue State. But it’s bigger than that. We did that in a Blue State, we took the money and put it into women’s health, so we did exactly what we’re talking about here.
But I think the bigger issue here is we should be able to do this nationally, and this is precisely why so many Republicans are upset with Washington. They see the House and they see the Senate and they say why can’t we pass this. Why can’t we defund Planned — put it in a spending bill.
Forget about the 60-vote rule, there’s no reason — and the Constitution doesn’t call for 60 votes. Pass it with 51 votes, put it on the desk of the president —
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
WALKER: — and go forward and actually make a point. This is why —
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
WALKER: — people are upset with Washington.
Image: CNN screenshot