Like everything else right after 9/11, the attacks in New York and Washington dominated public discussion, and she opened her speech acknowledging the overwhelming impact the events had, as well as the cloud they casted even over her speech.
But Fiorina went one step further.
Closing her 3,700 word speech, Fiorina told the story of the spread of a civilization that she called “the greatest in the world.”
This civilization spread, according to the speech, from Latin America to China, from northern climes to the tropics and deserts. This civilization was, of course, the original spread of Islam beginning 1,300 years ago.
Fiorina painted a very rosy picture of this spread, portraying it as both cosmopolitan, multi-cultural, scientific, and peaceful.
This, of course, is a very different view of Islam’s history than most Americans are willing to accept. Most notably, most Americans are aware that almost two-thirds of all Christian nations fell to Islam’s sword during this time period — a time period that would eventually spark the European Crusades into the Middle East.
Since 2001, a majority of Americans have viewed our fight in the Middle East as one against Islam itself.
Trump has a solid advantage on this — he just shrugs it off and says he doesn’t care.
Fiorina has a more difficult time with this — if for no other reason than she’s one of the ones under Trump’s own critical microscope.
Our last three presidents — Clinton, Bush, and Obama — have all taken a very cautious approach toward the religion of Islam, all of whom have heaped praises on it as a peace-loving religion, and a freedom-loving people.
Bush and Obama have both bucked public opinion by doing this. Since 2001, a majority of Americans have viewed our fight in the Middle East as one against Islam itself, not radicals.
With the growing threat of the Islamic State dominating current foreign policy discussions and the prevailing view in the Republican Party that we need a stronger hand in the Middle East, it seems unlikely that there is much room for a candidate with the propensity to heap praises (even on past events) on our current enemies.
While religion — or even outright bigotry against our enemies — shouldn’t be the issue, the longer these conflicts keep going, the harder it will be for politicians to buck the trends in American public opinion.
Speeches like Fiorina’s will become political cannon fodder, used by her opponents to show that she’s not in tune with the average American’s opinions.
Like many other political skeletons, this speech — though over a decade old — may be what totally derails Fiorina’s slim chances at advancing in the Republican primary.