Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has taken heat from fact-checkers and critics over one of her most memorable lines from the second Republican presidential debate.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, host Chuck Todd pressed Fiorina repeatedly to explain why she was standing behind those since-debated claims about the Planned Parenthood organisation.
Fiorina’s claim, which earned her raucous applause from the debate crowd, was that an undercover video released by an anti-abortion group includes a scene that features a “fully formed foetus on the table. Its heart beating. Its legs kicking. While someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'”
“Are you willing now to concede that that you exaggerated that scene?” Todd asked her on Sunday.
“No, not at all. That scene absolutely does exist,” Fiorina said.
“The footage you describe at best is a reenactment,” Todd countered. “The people that made the videos admit it’s stock footage. Yet you went right along and said, ‘It’s Planned Parenthood.'”
Fiorina’s original line from the debate referred to the controversy over a series of undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress group. The videos purport to show Planned Parenthood executives discussing selling aborted fetal tissue, which is against the law. The organisation, however, vehemently denies this, and has said the videos are highly edited to obfuscate the truth.
Fiorina’s claims have come under scrutiny since her memorable debate line, as some fact-checkers labelled them “misleading.” One video released by the CMP does show a scene similar to what Fiorina describes. There is not, however, any evident connection to Planned Parenthood, and it uses apparently unrelated stock footage.
“Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, Chuck. Do you think this is not happening?” Fiorina said. “Does Hillary Clinton think this is not happening? So sad that you missed the opportunity to ask Mrs. Clinton why she said, ‘Late-term abortions were only performed for medical purposes.'”
Todd then accused Fiorina of ducking the question, an accusation Fiorina denied, insisting that the video matched her description.
During Sunday’s interview, Fiorina also did not rule out a potential government shutdown brewing over funding for Planned Parenthood.
“I believe if the president of the United States and Democrats are willing to stand up and defend for what is roughly $US500 million to $US600 million line item in a budget, if they are willing to stand up and defend this practice and shut down the government over it, then let them explain it to the American people. Let them explain it,” she said.
Fiorina has seen a spike in polls following two strong debate performances. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released Sunday found her tied with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) for third place with 11% support — about an 11-point jump from the same survey taken in July.
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