Candidate Watch

Candidate Watch

May 4, 2016

As the national primaries are winding down, the Public Policy Committee is focusing on our Get Out the Vote activities. Please stay tuned for future  Candidate Watch entries from our members.   

December 3, 2015

Carly Fiorina: Style or Substance?

Carly Fiorina burst onto the national political stage during the first Republican Debate and commanded our attention. She certainly looked different—the only female surrounded by fourteen male contenders. She was intense, focused, and slightly less used-car-salesman-like than the other contenders trying to convince the American public that we should buy what they were selling. Some people feel she won the September 16th debate, citing her ability to appear “strong, disciplined, and in command.”

Many of us asked, “Who is this Carly Fiorina?” “What does she stand for?”

She attended Stanford University for undergrad and studied philosophy and medieval history. Carly received her MBA from University of Maryland and an MS in Management from MIT Sloan School of Management. Her mother was an artist, and her father served as a U.S. Deputy Attorney General under President Nixon and is a retired judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Carly worked as an economic advisor to Senator John McCain during his 2008 presidential bid. In 2010, she was the Republican candidate for the California Senate. She lost to Senator Barbara Boxer by 10 points.

Carly Fiorina was the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company. Yet her tenure at Hewlett Packard (HP) was filled with controversy, causing some to question her business acumen even years later. During her reign as CEO, HP acquired Compaq, stock plummeted 55%, and about 30,000 people lost their jobs. In 2005, Carly was fired from HP. Her spin is that she made some difficult decisions and her board disagreed.

According to Quinnipiac University, she is currently polling at about 3%. A CNN/ORC poll cites 4%. Although these figures have been consistent for the past several weeks, they represent a drop from the earlier days of the campaign. Although she has maintained her place on the main stage during the debates, media coverage of her campaign has decreased overall and she has been dwarfed by several of the more “controversial” figures in the campaign. Following the fourth debate, there was a slight uptick in her media coverage. It is ironic that despite Carly’s tendency to eschew some of the more typical “feminist” positions, she, too, had to defend herself against disparaging remarks about her appearance. Carly’s retort has been to maintain that the American public is interested in the issues—“When they hear me, they support me.”

So, does she have a constituency? Who are her supporters? What issues are prominent for her? While she was running for office in California back in 2010, she was seen as not being conservative enough. During the second Republican debate in which she took on Planned Parenthood, she seemed to have garnered increased support from conservatives. She claimed she had seen a videotape in which a “fully formed fetus…its heart beating…before its organs were harvested.” The veracity of this statement as well as the existence of the tape has been questioned. PolitiFact rates this statement as “mostly false.”

Carly would also have The Affordable Care Act, (“Obamacare”) repealed. She believes in less governmental involvement and more free market strategies. Her inflammatory remark that, “Obamacare isn’t helping anyone” has resulted in the highest rating of inaccuracy from PolitiFact (“Pants on Fire”).

We will continue to monitor this candidate.

Dr. Dianna Washington
Public Policy Committee 




December 3, 2015

Ben Carson, Brilliant yet Ignorant and Uncaring

Dr. Carson is world-famous for expertise in pediatric neurosurgery. But his facts are wrong about women’s health care and about general health care available to the 99 percent in America.

When asked about his views about rape or incest, Dr. Carson replied: “In cases of rape or incest, I would hope they would quickly avail themselves of the emergency room. And in the emergency room, they would have the ability to administer RU486 before you have a developing fetus.”

Dr. Carson is totally ignorant of facts about post-rape pregnancy prevention. RU486 is not a “morning after pill.” “Morning after” with trade names Plan B, Take Action, Next Choice, and My Way) are now available over-the-counter but are rarely recommended in emergency rooms due to religious bias And   “Morning after” medication is not always effective

RU486 is the prescription used for medically induced abortions. RU486 would only be appropriate to terminate a pregnancy already established, and emergency rooms never provide pregnancy termination services.

Dr. Carson also shows his ignorance about evolution in his statements that, “Ultimately if you accept evolutionary theory, you dismiss ethics…”  Yet ethics, though clearly important, are irrelevant to scientific facts.  The fact of evolution is starkly evident today, for example, in the emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria that even Dr. Carson must recognize.

Equally disturbing are his comments about the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare is the worst thing that has happened in this country next to slavery… you shift the power from the people to the government,” Carson said. Yet without “Obamacare” many Americans would not have the power to pay for health care. Without Obamacare, America would be deciding that many citizens are unworthy of health care.

Dr. Carson has also said Medicare and Medicaid should be replaced by “cradle to grave personal savings accounts funded with $2000 per year from the government.” Yet he ignores the fact that no American earning minimum wage has spare money for a “personal savings account. And the “annual $2000 “from the government” would be gobbled up by a few hours spent in an emergency room.

Dr. Carson should stick to pediatric neurosurgery. He knows nothing about the lives of most of his countrymen and seems not to care that his policies would deny basic health care to most of us.

The next Dr. Carson installment will cover his ignorance of world history and American civics.

Karen Pataky
Vice President for Public Policy and Political Action




November 6, 2015

Dr. Ben Carson, Renowned Surgeon or Mr. Hyde? 

Dr. Ben Carson is now the leading Republican candidate for President. And “Of all of the GOP contenders, he is the scariest,” argues Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.

Dr. Carson has a “single mother” and “rags to riches” life story similar to President Obama’s. Dr. Carson’s life’s work has been that of a Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon with particular specialty in separating conjoined twins in America, Australia, and Europe. His autobiography Gifted Hands has been a bestselling inspiration to millions of young Black men and women.

But when Dr. Carson retired from surgery and entered the 2016 presidential campaign, he left his Hippocratic Oath and compassion behind. His soft-spoken manner has obscured the meanings of his words, but his words must be exposed.

The Hippocratic Oath’s “first, do no harm” admonition is absent from Dr. Carson’s statements on America’s use of torture on enemy prisoners. He says, “What we do in order to get information we need is our business, and I wouldn’t be broadcasting to everybody what we are going to do”…. “There is no such thing as a politically correct war….”

So, torture is OK if America does it? Might Dr. Carson, himself, engage in torture,” if the cause is just”? A physician who actually advocates torture is horrifying.

After the recent mass shooting at Umpqua College in Oregon, Dr. Carson stated, “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.” So murdering citizens with guns is OK because the NRA (mis)interpretation of the Second Amendment to our Constitution is more important than saving lives? These are the words of an American physician?

From ancient times, physicians have held themselves to the highest of humanitarian standards in caring for the sick and dying. No international or national medical association condones torture. The AMA website reveals that all leading American Medical Associations agree that gun violence is a national public health issue.

So Dr. Carson’s medical ethics and compassion are no longer guiding principles now that he is a Republican candidate for President? Has he morphed into Mr. Hyde?

Campaign Watch on Dr. Ben Carson will continue with further discussions of his ignorance about women’s health, paying for health care in America, and other issues. 

Karen Pataky,
Vice President for Public Policy and Political Action    



Republicans—Riding a Wave of Authoritarianism, Libertarianism 

Donald Trump couldn’t be clearer on what he wants to sell the American public—the message that he alone will make things happen.  He isn’t going to promise to sit around a fire in a circle with other human beings and help reach a consensus on this or that.  He is the Deal Maker and will fix everything.

What floats Donald Trump is authoritarianism, the yearning for a strong man. It’s everywhere in the Republican Party. While it is true that Republicans describe themselves as fighting for freedom and liberty, they are also explicitly fighting for anything they define as strong as opposed to anything they see as weak. Compromise is weak. They are against it. They create something or someone as the enemy and support only getting rid of that enemy.

Paul Ryan is the new Speaker of the House.  He ascended to the speakership in a glow of “nice guy” testimonials.  However, Ryan, once a professed “libertarian,” will add to this Republican authoritarian ethos. Over his congressional career, he has voted to repeal Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamp and housing programs, and cut taxes on the rich and increase them on the middle class.

The ideology behind Ryan’s policies goes way beyond the corporate profiteering preference for small government. He originated the terms “makers and “takers’ in a 2011 speech before the Heritage Foundation. Early in his career in the House, he required his staff to read the author Ayn Rand (Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged). Rand held that man, the heroic being, should not be “pulled down” by the “moochers” and “looters.” (Perhaps a racist undertone?)  Rand stated that government could be funded through mere voluntary means.

Ryan has now distanced himself from Ayn Rand, on the grounds, he says, of her atheism. But he is comfortable in the company of religious authoritarians who are convinced that their religious beliefs must be imposed on others. GOP attempts to ban contraception and gay marriage would be examples of such authoritarianism.

The media has defined what drives the far right as a refusal to compromise combined with a corporate-driven, small- government ideology.  Not much drama there. But when we look into the hate-filled eyes of Republican members of Congress grilling Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearings we must realize they will never cede any deviation from their ideology.

Our only option is to win back the Congress and keep a Democrat in the White House.

Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Chair
PPC International Affairs Task Force