An emotional Carly Fiorina opened up Friday about the death of her step-daughter, Lori Ann, who passed away in 2009 after battling drug and alcohol addiction, The Hill reports.
Responding to a question about drug abuse from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at a conservative forum in Greenville, S.C., Fiorina choked up at one point and appeared to blink back tears as she recounted the “long and painful journey” of her step-daughter’s death.
“When someone is addicted, you watch them disappear before your eyes,” the Republican presidential candidate said. “You watch the — I call them the demons of addiction, because that’s what it looks like — they’re overcome by the demons of addiction. In our daughter’s case, she simply did not have the physical strength to go on. We must invest more in the treatment of all mental illness, including addictions.”
Fiorina said she has been approached by countless supporters on the campaign trail who have shared similar stories of heartbreak.“I realized as we went through the long painful journey with Lori Ann, I met so many other family’s going through this, but I did not realize honestly what an epidemic this has become,” Fiorina said.
She said the experience in part spurred her to run for president. “The reason I’m running for president is because I don’t want to see hope fading from anyone’s eyes,” Fiorina said. “And while there’s nothing as devastating as drug addiction, it is also true that I see too many people now in this nation that lack hope. … I know the look people get when they achieve their God-given potential. For me, that look is fuel.”
The former Hewlett-Packard executive shined at the Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, Calif., on Wednesday, with many pundits declaring her a winner. One of her most striking moments came at the end of an extended discussion on legalizing marijuana, when she briefly touched on the death of her step-daughter.
“I very much hope that I am the only person on this stage who can say this, but I know there are millions of Americans who will say the same thing,” Fiorina said then. “My husband Frank and I buried a child to drug addiction. We must invest more in the treatment of drugs. We are misleading young people when we tell them marijuana is just like having beer. It’s not.”
At the forum Friday, Fiorina also returned to another strong moment from Wednesday’s debate, demanding that Congress defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of the string of undercover videos that have surfaced showing officials negotiating the price of fetal tissue to be used for research purposes.
“If we will not fight for this, faced with proof positive of the butchery going on at Planned Parenthood, faced with an assault on the character of this nation – it is not actually about whether you’re pro choice or pro life – we cannot be a nation that funds this kind of barbarity, and that’s what it is,” Fiorina said.
She reiterated her call to shut down the government over federal funding for the group. “With record majorities in the House of Representatives, and a majority in the U.S. Senate, if we do not have the courage to stand up and say, ‘President Obama, if you’re prepared to shut down the government to defend this kind of barbarity, have at it, and explain it to the American people,’ ” Fiorina said.