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Carly’s Moment

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slate articleThe following is an excerpt from Jamelle Bouie | September 23, 2015 | Slate.com |

Welcome to Carly Fiorina’s moment.

After a commanding performance at last week’s GOP presidential debate, she is the newest Republican rock star. Not only was she cheered at the Heritage Action for American forum in Greenville, South Carolina, and well-received at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan, this past weekend, but in the latest CNN poll, she wins 15 percent of Republican primary voters, making her second, behind Donald Trump and just ahead of Ben Carson.

It’s an important victory for her long-shot, outsider campaign, which needs publicity to thrive in the absence of institutional Republican support from donors and fundraisers to activists and lawmakers. But it comes with a cost: scrutiny.

Here’s the thing about running for president. Once you become somebody—a strong debater or a leader in the polls—you have to deal with an eager and enthusiastic press that wants to know your background. This isn’t just an opportunity for aggressive journalists; it’s a chance for critics and political rivals to do damage. And it’s this scrutiny that is often the thing—or one of them—that destroys a candidacy, especially one like Fiorina’s that rides on voter anger and discontent.

What happens? Either the press finds scandal—like the sexual harassment claims against Herman Cain in the 2012 primary—or unearths a record that undermines the candidate in one way or another. Fiorina is scandal-free, so far. But just a glance at her business career reveals bad judgment, worse performance, and deep political vulnerability.

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