DES MOINES, Iowa — The Republican woman most likely to run for the White House next year isn't happy her party backed down on a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
"I think it's really disappointing that that bill was not brought to the floor for a vote," former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina told The Hill on Friday. "I am on board with that bill and that ban and so are the vast majority of American people and the vast majority of women in this nation. This isn't something that's extreme as Democrats want to cast it."
House Republicans were forced to cancel a vote on the bill earlier this week after a number of female and moderate Republican members threatened to vote against it. They were upset that the GOP was focusing on abortion politics as it heads into another presidential cycle and angry about the wording of the bill's rape exemption that would have required women to report rapes to the police to qualify.
But Fiorina, who is in Iowa this weekend to meet with activists and speak at a major GOP gathering on Saturday, disagrees.
"The fact that this bill was pulled I find really disappointing. It's bad policy and it's bad politics," she said.
The GOP businesswoman has been moving toward a potential presidential bid and is using her Iowa trip to test the waters, planning to tout her business experience as a selling point. She's looking to court the state's large population of religious conservatives and has ramped up her rhetoric on social issues — though she said she offers a unique skill for the race.
"I bring a wholly different set of experiences. I'm not a professional politician, though I'm also not a political neophyte," said Fiorina. "I'm really going to talk about what I think our nation needs to do to restore its promise and leadership in the world, the importance of citizenship and citizen government and the importance of leadership."
Strategists are skeptical the little-known Fiorina, whose only foray into electoral politics was a double-digit loss against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2010, has the chops to rise to the top tier of the campaign. But many speculate she could be in the mix for vice president or a Cabinet slot if she impresses on the campaign trail. And her position as the only woman likely to be in the race gives her a unique role.
"Our party needs to be as diverse as the nation we represent. A woman's voice matters in this conversation," she said. "Every issue is a woman's issue. We're half the nation. We're 53 percent of voters. I bring a different perspective."
Fiorina's big speech will be at an event hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a conservative firebrand who often makes controversial remarks on immigration. She said the party needs "to be respectful and empathetic" when talking about the issue, and argued that the U.S. must secure its border and fix the legal immigration system before it could tackle how to handle the approximately 11 million immigrants, arguing that an eventual path to legalization might be appropriate but not a path to citizenship.
Fiorina downplayed the importance of her Senate loss, pointing out California heavily favors Democrats. She demurred when asked what lessons she'd learned from her loss, pointing to Republicans' weaker ground game in the state rather than anything she did wrong as a candidate.
She also said she'd discovered a love for the campaign trail.
"I always find my energy talking to people," she said.