Protesters greet Fiorina in IC

Republican+presidential+candidate+Carly+Fiorina+speaks+with+a+supporter+outside+of+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+September+26th.+She+is+the+only+woman+running+for+the+Republican+nomination.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FKyle+Close%29
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Protesters greet Fiorina in IC

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks with a supporter outside of Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 26th. She is the only woman running for the Republican nomination. (The Daily Iowan/Kyle Close)

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks with a supporter outside of Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 26th. She is the only woman running for the Republican nomination. (The Daily Iowan/Kyle Close)

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks with a supporter outside of Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 26th. She is the only woman running for the Republican nomination. (The Daily Iowan/Kyle Close)

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks with a supporter outside of Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 26th. She is the only woman running for the Republican nomination. (The Daily Iowan/Kyle Close)

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By Quentin Misiag
[email protected]

Hot-pink-shirted activists with Planned Parenthood ratcheted up their attacks on Carly Fiorina on Sept. 26, at times limiting the Republican presidential candidate’s ability to get even a few words in with Iowa voters tailgating nearby.

Minutes after stepping down from the platform of the Hawkeye Express train to congregate with Iowans who had turned out in droves to watch the Iowa-North Texas football game, Fiorina was bombarded with activists from the nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health, maternal, and child-life services.

“Women are watching, and we vote,” the activists shouted loudly, as Fiorina and a group of supporters snaked past the Kinnick Stadium box office.

During most of the opposition, Fiorina rivals played with Iowa football chants including: “I-O-W-A, women’s rights are here to stay,” and “Foul on Fiorina: Offsides for telling lies.”

At one point in the two-hour visit, Planned Parenthood organizers tossed condoms into the crowd.

In recent months, the former tech mogul and the women’s rights group have sparred because Fiorina has said the federal government should no longer provide funding for its treatments.

The tension between the two sides comes more than a week after Fiorina claimed in the latest Republican debate that tapes leaked by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress show Planned Parenthood with “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.’ ”

She has been one of the loudest critics of the group since a series of controversial videos about research on fetal tissue went viral last month.

“Go Hawks and all of that,” she said, waving and speaking to supporters. Absent from the stopover were Fiorina’s fiery political talking points that have become signature in her recent swings through Iowa and at the CNN GOP debate on Sept. 16.

The outspoken group of approximately 15, mostly of whom were women, noticeably annoyed Fiorina, who did four events in Iowa earlier in the weekend prior to visiting Iowa City.

As Fiorina slowly made her way to the tailgate spot adjacent to Kinnick Stadium and the West Campus Transportation Center, organizers with the super PAC supporting her — Carly For America — pulled fans aside to ask them if they were planning on participating in the Iowa caucuses.

Mary Radke, 17, drove 90 miles with her father from Cedar Falls to see Fiorina. Describing the public naysayers as “annoying,” the self-described Republican who plans to caucus, said, “They are women, and they have a right to vote. And I’m a woman, and I’m voting. I’m voting for Carly.”

Fiorina is the first presidential candidate to tailgate a home Iowa football game this year, according to Daily Iowan records.

Throughout the two-hour visit, Fiorina appeared distracted and spoke quietly with no presidential stump speech. As she beefs up her ties to Iowa, she has left much of the organizing to the day-to-day operations of the super PAC, organizers said.

Fiorina’s husband, Frank Fiorina, flew to Iowa on Sept. 23 to organize on her behalf.

Until Sept. 26, the woman once seen as a Republican dark-horse candidate had never publicly faced protesters.

About two-dozen University of Iowa students stopped by the tailgate, snapping selfies and getting Fiorina’s autograph.

Campaign operatives stayed clear of connecting with students, despite the understood need to persuade that crucial demographic to vote every election night.

Fifteen percent of Republicans surveyed in the latest CNN/ORC poll released earlier this month said Fiorina would be their choice candidate.

That number puts her behind GOP rival and business magnate Donald Trump, who raked in 24 percent of the Republican support in the poll.

With 305 registered voters surveyed, the poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

While some in attendance bashed her executive record as the head of Hewlett-Packard, others praised her business savvy.

When the group of protesters dissipated, Fiorina stopped by the tailgate of millionaire agribusiness mogul and state Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter.

The two have met privately and publicly several times in the last few months as she has increased her ground game here. Rastetter has established a following in GOP politics as a man who can lure hopefuls to the state and is well-known in the soy industry.

While he has not thrown his support behind one candidate publicly, his endorsement is coveted and could be viewed as a major win for a White House hopeful.

In a series of interviews with the DI earlier this month, key Iowa political watchers and leading state Republicans said Fiorina was one of three “winners” from the Sept. 16 debate.

She was focused on her points and underscored recent comments made by Trump about her physical appearance, they said.

Fiorina will return to Iowa on Oct. 15 for stops in Des Moines, Pleasant Hill, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo, according to a preliminary campaign itinerary.

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