Carly Fiorina Q+A: ‘Whom Shall I Fear?’

The candidate on her faith, abortion, and why women make good investment risks

“The sharp-spoken former executive has offered voters glimpses of her personal life, including her battle with breast cancer in 2009 and her stepdaughter’s tragic death after struggling with drug addiction. It was her Christian faith that sustained her.”


Ever since Carly Fiorina’s forceful criticism of Planned Parenthood during CNN’s Republican debate, Americans have been paying more attention to the former Hewlett-Packard CEO.

Fiorina saw her numbers rise in the polls over the past three weeks, as media continue to parse her remarks about watching a “fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating” against footage released by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress.

The 61-year-old has gone from being viewed as the Republican foil to Democrat Hillary Clinton to a serious contender on her own. Like several other Republican candidates, Fiorina never held public office, having lost a 2010 Senate campaign to California’s Barbara Boxer.

The sharp-spoken former executive has offered voters glimpses of her personal life, including her battle with breast cancer in 2009 and her stepdaughter’s tragic death after struggling with drug addiction. It was her Christian faith that sustained her through the pain, and continues to strengthen her as she sets her eyes on the White House, she said in an interview with CT.

Fiorina spoke at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in 2007, two years after being ousted from HP. Through her connection with Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels, she revisited her beliefs and felt God deepen her convictions. She shares her testimony in this video for Opportunity International, a Christian non-profit that works to empower women and fight global poverty. Fiorina was involved with the organization as an ambassador and board chair up until her presidential run.

Raised Episcopalian, she has carried a mantra from her Sunday School days into the campaign: “What you are is God’s gift to you, and what you make of yourself is your gift to God.” She spoke with Her.meneutics editor Kate Shellnutt about her beliefs and background.

One of the most-talked-about issues in your campaign has been your criticism of Planned Parenthood. What shaped your pro-life views?

I was raised that way, but I didn’t really think about it all that much until I took a friend when I was in my early 20s to a Planned Parenthood clinic to have an abortion. She decided to have an abortion, and she asked me to go with her. I did, for moral support, and I watched while basically she was given no options. I watched what it did to her physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I later met my husband and learned that his mother had been told to abort him. She was a woman of great courage and faith; she chose not to. He was the joy of her life; he’s been the rock of mine. I’ve thought often about how different my life would be had she made a different choice. Several years later, I learned I was not able to have children of my own, so I learned in a whole other way that life is a precious gift. I’ve learned over and over again in my life that every person has potential, that everyone has God-given gifts regardless of their circumstances—usually far more than they realize.

To me, the thing that is most shocking about this controversy is that Planned Parenthood keeps talking about birth control, women’s health, pro-life, and pro-choice.… this is not about any of those things.

What did you learn from your involvement in Christian microfinance with Opportunity International? And how do you think that will influence your views on foreign policy?

First, Christian microfinance works. Fundamentally, what Opportunity International does is take a chance on people. Opportunity International has lent $6 billion, $100 at a time. It has lifted millions out of poverty—mostly women because women in the developing world make very good credit risks and very good investments. They invest in their families and their communities. It’s a demonstration that everybody has potential. Instead of assuming that someone cannot live a life of purpose and dignity and meaning, as so many progressives do, this program assumes everyone has potential and everyone can be lifted up. To me, that is the core of what this nation is built on. And it’s the core of what’s slowly being drained away by a government that’s overreaching in every conceivable way, tangling people’s lives up in webs of dependence instead of giving them a helping hand.

I’m not sure that Opportunity International has shaped my view of foreign policy, but certainly my experiences with world leaders and with military and intelligence leaders have. You know, there’s evil in the world. And there are tyrants in the world—Putin, Khamenei in Iran, Bashar al-Assad. The Chinese are a rising adversary. There are adversaries, tyrants, evil in the world that does not believe that life is valuable in any way. When you don’t believe that life is valuable, you are capable of unbelievable horror, and that’s what we see going on. It’s why the United States, which was founded on the notion that each life is valuable, we have to confront our adversaries. It doesn’t mean rushing to war every time, but we can’t lie down while evil is perpetuated all over the world.

Part of your personal testimony is how you experienced a renewal in your faith after meeting Bill Hybels and speaking at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Could you tell me about what your faith practice looks like now, and what it’s been like to deal with the emotional and spiritual demands of the campaign?

I begin every morning with a daily Scripture. I’m one of those people who has to spend the first time in the morning with silence, quiet, contemplation, Scripture, and prayer. It’s how I get ready for the day. In a way, daily Scripture is even more important now. It’s interesting. I read this morning Psalm 27, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—then whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid.”

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