WASHINGTON -- Following a standout performance at the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland on Thursday, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina criticized Jeb Bush for his "foolish" comments about women's health.
"It's disappointing. I spent all of last year with a lot of other conservatives pushing back effectively against the war on women. [Colorado Sen.] Cory Gardner did a good job. [Iowa Sen.] Joni Ernst did a good job," Fiorina told reporters following the second-tier debate, which took place several hours before the larger, primetime event.
"It's really disappointing when a front-runner gives the Democrats an ad and a talking point before he's even in the race," she added.
The former governor of Florida was forced to backtrack Wednesday after he suggested the U.S. spent too much on women's health care. Bush said he "misspoke," and explained that he meant to say the government should no longer fund Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest women's health group.
Fiorina put on one of the stronger performances at Thursday's undercard debate, which also included former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
She wasted no time hitting real estate mogul Donald Trump for his ties to the Clintons, noting that no other candidate on stage had received a phone call from former President Bill Clinton, as The Washington Post earlier this week reported Trump has. And she earned plaudits from conservatives for her assertive posture with respect to dealing with Iran.
The businesswoman, who is one of the lesser-known candidates in the race, was rewarded with a Google report showing that her name was the most searched presidential hopeful during the debate.
Democrats also took notice. In what was perhaps a nod to her performance, the Democratic National Committee issued a statement attacking Fiorina for her record as executive at Hewlett Packard.
“Here’s Carly Fiorina’s record on negotiations – she negotiated a merger with Compaq where 30,000 HP employees lost their jobs," said DNC spokeswoman Christina Freudlich. "Then she negotiated a $40 million golden parachute after she was fired. Here’s Carly Fiorina’s policy record: an affinity for sending American jobs overseas."
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post referred to Cory Gardner as a senator from Utah. He is from Colorado.