Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio Vs. Donald Trump Chart New Course
Almost every Republican presidential candidate until recently has floundered when attacking real-estate tycoon Donald Trump.
But since last week, two surging White House hopefuls are taking a markedly different approach: former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
Rather than regularly berating the GOP front-runner or pretending he doesn't exist, Fiorina and Rubio have been biding their time and, when the opportunity strikes, delivering a limited- and arguably emasculating - attack.
When the inevitable flood of Trump counter-punches followed, they have quietly held their ground without escalating the situation.
And so far, at least, it appears to be working - though Trump argues they're doomed to fail like everyone else who attacks him.
"Every single person I've talked about has gone down and I never do the talking first. I'm always counter-punching," Trump told Business Insider on Thursday. "Rubio is going to be down too."
However, there may be a small amount of evidence that the Rubio-Fiorina strategy is effective. Fiorina probably demonstrated it the best during the September 16 CNN presidential debate, after which she soared in polls and is now competing for the No. 2 position behind Trump.
It was her first time on the main stage, as she was relegated to the "kiddie table," lower-tier affair of the Fox News debates the previous month. And Fiorina was at the center of the latest Trump controversy at the time: In a Rolling Stone profile published a week before, Trump was quoted seemingly mocking her appearance.
"Look at that face," he said, according to Rolling Stone. "Would anyone vote for that?"
Trump later insisted he was talking about Fiorina's "persona," not her looks, but the narrative had already been cemented. And given the opportunity to confront Trump over the Rolling Stone comments at the CNN debate, Fiorina steeled herself and suggested he was being sexist.
"I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said," Fiorina said to loud applause.
ReutersCarly Fiorina at the CNN debate.
The shiv had apparently made its way through the Trump armor. Instead of the typical counterpunch, he responded with a half-hearted compliment: "I think she's got a beautiful face, and I think she's a beautiful woman."
Rich Lowry, the editor of the conservative magazine National Review, infuriated Trump while describing that debate moment during a Fox News interview last Wednesday. Speaking with host Megyn Kelly, Lowry crudely declared that Fiorina had castrated the front-runner.
"Trump obviously attacks everyone. But she's become a much bigger target. And I think part of what's going on here is that last debate. Let's be honest: Carly cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon, and he knows it," Lowry said.
Kelly was shocked.
"What did you just say?!" Kelly said. "You can't say that."
But Trump wasn't satisfied with her admonishment. He quickly exploded on Twitter. He described Lowry as "incompetent" and "clueless," demanded an apology from Fox News, and suggested that the Federal Communications Commission should fine Lowry.
During a interview on CNN the next day, Trump offered still more criticism. He said Lowry "used words that were so unbelievable," "made a total fool of himself," and had a "nervous breakdown on television."
Here's Kelly reacting to Lowry's comment:
Your browser does not support the video tag. Fox News Rich Lowry, top, claims Carly Fiorina castrated Donald Trump as Megyn Kelly, middle, and TheBlaze's Chris Salcedo react.
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