IOWA CITY, Iowa — Amid growing tension between the two sides, Planned Parenthood backers crashed a Carly Fiorina campaign football tailgate on Saturday.
"I-O-W-A, women's rights are here to stay!" chanted supporters of the organization toward Fiorina, just several feet away. Fiorina supporters tried to keep a distance between the Republican presidential candidate and the pink-clad protesters outside of the University of Iowa football game in Iowa City.
"I think we're making a difference, that's my reaction," Fiorina told reporters, trying to speak over the chants. "I think they're scared that the people of America are starting to look at what's really going on in a Planned Parenthood clinic."
"They can't deny what's going on, so they shout slogans instead," she added before returning to shake hands and take pictures.
About 30 Planned Parenthood supporters and patients from Iowa congregated for the demonstration.
At one point, a few unopened condom wrappers were thrown Fiorina's way from the direction of the protesters. While it was unclear if the Planned Parenthood demonstrators tossed them, the group was handing them out to people as they walked around the college stadium.
Planned Parenthood has long been a target for Republicans, but the release of secretly recorded videos that raised questions about its handling of fetal tissue provided to scientific researchers has infuriated anti-abortion Republicans and added urgency to their efforts against the group, including the push to defund it.
The group says it is doing nothing wrong and isn't violating federal law against profiting from such practices.
"I was trying to ask [Fiorina], as a woman nominee, how she could defund Planned Parenthood based on lies," said Cindy Shireman, 54, a Planned Parenthood patient for the past 40 years. Shireman had a conversation with the candidate.
"I believe [her response] is total Republican rhetoric and she's pushing the abortion agenda to get votes," Shireman said. "And she's not telling the truth."
A Planned Parenthood representative said Saturday's demonstration could be the first of many more at future Fiorina campaign stops.
The clash between the two sides takes place more than a week after Fiorina said in the Republican debate that tapes released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress show Planned Parenthood with "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'"
But there's no evidence the video clip of the fetus that Fiorina described is an aborted fetus or that the video was shot inside a Planned Parenthood clinic.
After the push back this week, Fiorina on Thursday railed against the focus on the "technicality."
"They're trying to have a conversation now on a technicality about a videotape," Fiorina said on a campaign stop inside a South Carolina pregnancy center.
"Interestingly, no one has denied that babies are being butchered for their body parts in Planned Parenthood clinics and elsewhere. No one has denied that," Fiorina added.