A 14-year-old speech given by GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina is now under sharp focus by her fellow conservatives and an outraged chorus on social media, claiming — in accusatory fashion that the former Hewlett-Packard CEO was "praising Muslims" in her September 2001 remarks.
On September 26, 2001, Fiorina addressed her employees, expressing her concern over the safety of their HP colleagues, “who are of Middle Eastern descent or who practice the Muslim religion here in the US and abroad."
In the two weeks before her speech, approximately 11 hate crimes had been perpetrated against Muslim, South Asian, and Arab Americans, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. One day after Fiorina’s speech, someone left a note reading “We’re going to kill all (expletive) Arabs” on a Yemeni-American man’s car windshield in Reedley, California. Two days later, he was shot to death.
In her speech, Fiorina lauded the contributions of ancient Islamic civilization to modern American society, saying that the “gifts [of Muslim civilizations] are very much a part of our heritage.”
On Sunday evening, former Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.) tweeted to her 244,000 Twitter followers a link to an excoriating critique of Fiorina's speech, prompting a flood of comments, retweets, and shares.
Conservative commentator Bethany Blankley, who penned the take-down, wrote that Fiorina's comments, "evidence her exceptional ineptitude or blatant, galling, willful deceit.”
“Perhaps she should move to Saudi Arabia where women are prohibited from driving; or Iran, where women are prohibited from working," she wrote. Blankley ends her piece by writing that the speech “reveals that Carly has been flying on a mystical magical carpet to nowhere for years.” The American Thinker accused Fiorina of "romanticizing the old Islamic caliphate."
A representative from the Fiorina campaign was not immediately available to comment.
Fiorina performed well in the "kiddie table" debate, featuring seven Republican candidates whose middling poll numbers prevented them from participating in the primetime debate.
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An NBC News Poll this month found that 22% of Republican-leaning voters who followed the debates said Fiorina performed the best among all the candidates. The next highest performer, according to the poll, was Donald Trump, with 18% of viewers saying that he did the “best job in the debate.”