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Carly Fiorina stopped by student question

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Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina in Dover, N.H.Jim Cole

For those who have been tuning into primary election politics since the beginning, all the questions — or at least the issues at the heart of the questions — have pretty much been asked and answered.

And for the most part, candidates respond with go-to talking points when the issue comes up. Foreign policy. Terrorism. Gun control. Economy. Women's health care. Veterans. The media hordes who trail the candidates have heard their answers before — often verbatim.

So nothing gets the cameras focused like a question asked by a young person — the younger the better. What's more meaningful than a second-grade girl asking to shake the hand of the person who might become first woman president? Or more compelling than a middle-schooler sharing a story of loss at the hands of addiction?


Take this week's New Hampshire Primary Student Convention, put on by New England College. It drew hundreds of high school and college students from across the country. Hadley Britt was one of them.

The 17-year-old from Cape Elizabeth High School in Maine asked Carly Fiorina the last question in a 48-minute town hall meeting at the confab: "Ms. Fiorina, how do you call yourself a feminist if you are taking away my basic right as a woman to choose what to do with my body?"

Pause. There were actually 16 seconds of unenthusiastic pauses while Fiorina just stood there holding the microphone during sustained applause.

"So you know what," she said interrupting the handclapping. "I'm not trying to take it away. You have that right realistically. This is political rhetoric, but let me tell you something. Let me tell you why I'm pro life."

(Fiorina's response didn't include the controversy following her blistering indictments of surreptitiously recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials, but it was implicit in Britt's question.)


Afterwards, a number of students — male and female — walked up to Britt, congratulating her for being "brave" enough to ask the question or thanking her for doing so. To be fair, there were a number of students who shouted, "You got our vote!" to Fiorina.

But that question was the punctuation that concluded the meeting.

Akilah Johnson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @akjohnson1922.