Fiorina emerges from crowded GOP presidential field

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina appears on CNN's "State of the Union" (screenshot).
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina appears on CNN's "State of the Union" (screenshot).

Carly Fiorina was known mostly, if at all, as a former Hewlett-Packard CEO who had run a failed U.S. Senate campaign in California.

That is, she was until she "won" the so-called junior varsity debate of the seven GOP presidential candidates with the lowest polling figures on Aug. 6.

Fiorina went after Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, even though the developer didn’t appear on stage until hours later in the main event.

Fiorina, the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company, captured headlines for the move, then generated more attention with an appearance at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta and weekend news shows.

By early last week, she was within the top five candidates in the crowded GOP field, according to multiple polls.

PolitiFact has fact-checked just nine statements Fiorina made on those topics and other issues as of Aug. 12.

Of them, one was rated True and one was rated Mostly True, or 11 percent each. She earned two ratings in Half True, Mostly False and False, or 22 percent each. She also earned one Pants on Fire ruling.

See them all at

Says Donald Trump has "changed his mind" on abortion.

Carly Fiorina on Aug. 6, 2015 in the first Republican presidential debate

Fiorina made several points questioning the GOP bona fides of frontrunner Donald Trump in the first Republican debates.

When asked about the developer’s top position in the polls, Fiorina explained Trump has connected with a legitimate frustration.

"Whatever your issue, your cause, the festering problem you hoped would (be) resolved, the political class has failed you," Fiorina said. "That's just a fact, and that's what Donald Trump taps into. I would also just say this. Since he has changed his mind on amnesty, on health care and on abortion, I would just ask, what are the principles by which he will govern?"

By Trump’s own admission, it is accurate to say he has changed his mind on abortion.

As late as 2000, he wrote that he was pro-choice. By 2011, he said he was pro-life.

Recently, he noted that he thinks exceptions for the life of the mother, incest and rape are appropriate.

But as he did in the GOP debates, Trump also often re-tells the story about his friend’s unplanned child changing his mind.

We rate Fiorina’s claim True.

"We doubled the size of the company (Hewlett-Packard)."

Carly Fiorina on May 10, 2015 in comments on NBC's "Meet the Press

One of Fiorina’s greatest accomplishments – serving as CEO of a Fortune 20 firm – also makes her a great target for critics.

Nearly 30,000 people were laid off during her tenure at computer company Hewlett-Packard. The company’s board later fired her.

When asked about being sacked, Fiorina used the question to list her accomplishments at HP.

"What people fail to comment on is the fact we doubled the size of the company, took the growth rate from 2 percent to 9 percent," she said. "We tripled the rate of innovation to 11 patents a day and went from lagging behind to leading in every product category. We grew jobs here in the U.S. and all over the world. You can't just leave those facts out -- they are as vital to the record as the fact that yes, indeed, I had to make tough calls during tough times."

Looking specifically at revenues created by the company, HP did double.

In 1999, when Fiorina became CEO, HP’s annual revenue was $42.4 billion, according to annual Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

With the exception of a slight dip in 2001 (at the end of the dot-com bubble), revenue increased each year -- to $86.7 billion in 2005, the year she left. That’s a little bit more than double.

However, that growth was largely thanks to a controversial merger with Compaq and not organic. Moreover, the new revenue did not come with proportional increases to either profits or the number of HP jobs.

Fiorina’s figures are accurate, but standing alone, they don’t tell the whole picture. We rate her claim Mostly True.

"If you look at the results of Obamacare, what you see is emergency room visits are up over 50 percent."

Carly Fiorina on Aug. 9, 2015 in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union"

Fresh off her debate successes, Fiorina took aim at the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that she opposes.

"Demonstrably, if you look at the results of Obamacare, what you see is emergency room visits are up over 50 percent," she said during a CNN interview.

The most recent official statistics on ER visits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cover 2011- well before most elements of the law kicked in.

A March 2015 survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians found that only 5 percent of respondents saw any decrease in patients in their emergency room, giving some validation for Fiorina’s claim.

But Fiorina said emergency room visits "are up over 50 percent" -- not that a majority of emergency room doctors say they are seeing more patients come for treatment.

In reality, the survey does not offer specifics on how many more visits there have been after implementation of the law. And a plurality of respondents suggest that the increases they’ve seen are "slight," which doesn’t sound like a word most people would use to describe a 50-percent increase.

Fiorina said, "If you look at the results of Obamacare, what you see is emergency room visits are up over 50 percent."

Fiorina has raised a legitimate concern about the health care law, but the eye-popping statistic she cites is not supported either by official federal data or by a recent survey of members of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

We rate her claim Mostly False.

"Seventy percent of the people living in abject poverty are women."

Carly Fiorina on Jan. 12, 2014 in a broadcast of ABC's "This Week"

Fiorina repeated a claim in 2014 that was first made two decades ago.

"Seventy percent of the people living in abject poverty are women," Fiorina said.

But so far as anyone can tell, that statement has no basis in fact.

Fiorina’s office did not return requests for supporting data.

We went to the World Bank data pages and contacted the bank’s research staff. We exchanged emails with the United Nations Development Programme, and UN Women, an entity focused on gender equality. None of them could point to statistics that would confirm this claim.

Poverty surveys don’t count how many women and men live in each household. Statisticians, some within the United Nations itself, began debunking the 70 percent figure as early as 1998 -- just three years after it gained prominence.

A 2001 analysis of 10 developing countries largely found no statistically significant differences. Where there was a gap, in every country but one, it was very narrow, and sometimes, as in the Latin America survey, men outnumbered women in poverty.

Census Bureau data, looking at only the United States, show that females account for 55 percent of Americans living in poverty.

Fiorina said that women account for 70 percent of the people in the world who live in poverty. She provided no support for the claim, nor does any seem to exist. We contacted the international bodies that rely on such statistics, and they told us they do not have the data to back up the claim. Independent experts echoed that point.

At least in Latin America and the United States, the data suggest a much lower figure. We rate this claim False.

"Barbara Boxer's worried about the weather" instead of terrorism as the biggest threat to national security.

Carly Fiorina on June 2, 2010 in a campaign commercial

When took on incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, Fiorina mocked Boxer for saying in 2007 that "one of the very important national security issues frankly is climate change."

After playing a clip of Boxer's statement, Fiorina faces the camera and responds, "Terrorism kills, and Barbara Boxer's worried about the weather."

We examined three elements to see if Fiorina quoted the context of the comment correctly: How well-accepted is the idea of climate change as a national security threat; is it fair to say that Boxer's concern about climate change amounts to being "worried about the weather;" and by focusing on the threat of climate change, did Boxer somehow ignore the issue of terrorism?

In all areas, Fiorina is guilty of major distortion.

Boxer brought up climate change and said it was "one of the very important national security issues," but Fiorina ignores that wording and portrays it as if Boxer cited it as the only priority.

In addition, Fiorina casts climate change as something you need to pack an umbrella for, or that prompts you to curse at the TV weatherman -- which strikes us as not only a trivialization of climate change but also a failure to distinguish between two well-established scientific specialties.

She also ignores Boxer's lengthy record supporting bills against terrorism.

So we have to light up the meter: Pants on Fire!

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ROAD TO 2016

Carly Fiorina

Age: 60, Born Sept. 6, 1954 in Austin, Texas.

Political party: Republican

Political experience: Ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. Advisor to Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Business: Former vice president AT&T; former executive at Lucent Technologies; ex-CEO of Hewlett-Packard, 1999 to 2005. Current chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation, the annual host of CPAC.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Stanford University, with majors in medieval history and philosophy. Master of business administration, University of Maryland.

Family: Husband, Frank Fiorina.

Interesting factoid:  After college, Fiorina took a receptionist job at the real estate firm Marcus & Millichap before moving up to broker. The experience prompted her to attend graduate school for business, after which she began at AT&T as a management trainee.