Carly Fiorina's supporters see a powerful political moment in her vociferous criticism of Planned Parenthood, a line of attack that will surely play with GOP activists and voters.
The Super PAC backing Fiorina has released a web ad lionizing her for the forceful — but also inaccurate — repudiation of Planned Parenthood she delivered at last week's Republican primary debate. Regardless of the truth, the ad should be a political win.
During the debate, Fiorina challenged President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton to watch a series of secretly recorded sting videos in which Planed Parenthood officials discuss the collection of fetal tissue. "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," Fiorina said.
Problem is, as Vox's Sarah Kliff and others immediately pointed out, there's no such scene in the many hours of Planned Parenthood videos. It turns out Fiorina was probably referring to a separate, heavily edited video.
That video, or one containing some of the same images, is the basis for the web ad, which slams the media for fact-checking Fiorina and shows a clip of a fully formed fetus kicking on an exam table. Sarah reported that the clip doesn't come from a Planned Parenthood clinic, which matters because Fiorina's point was that the government should stop subsidizing the group. It's not clear that Fiorina intentionally conflated the sets of videos — or that she wasn't genuinely confused about the origin of the images she saw. But she refused to back down once confronted with the facts.
What's even clearer is that the Super PAC, CARLY for America, understands that anti-abortion voters aren't going to care very much whether Fiorina garbled the facts. The point, from their perspective, is that she's taking a stand against abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood — and that she's not backing down in the face of criticism from abortion rights groups and media outlets.
It's a smart play for the party's powerful anti-abortion base at a time when many social conservatives are still trying to figure out which candidate to back and while Republican leaders in Congress are wrestling with a set of rank-and-file lawmakers who would shut down the government because they can't get a Planned Parenthood funding ban into a budget bill.
"This is about the character of our nation," Fiorina says over dramatic music. "And if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us."