'I Buried a Child to Drug Addiction,' Carly Fiorina Said in Last Night’s GOP Debate

By Zachary Siegel 09/17/15

Amid the Trump baiting and slavish praise for Ronald Reagan was a personal moment from the former Hewlett-Packard CEO.

Carly Fiorina
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Aside from slaying Donald Trump for his sexist remarks and touting long-debunked Planned Parenthood videos during CNN’s GOP debate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina had a personal moment when revealing the loss of her stepdaughter to drug addiction.

"I very much hope that I am the only person on this stage who can say this," Fiorina said, "but I know there are millions of Americans out there who will say the same thing: My husband, Frank, and I buried a child to drug addiction."

The tragedy of her stepdaughter, Lori, came up during a debate about marijuana legalization, though Fiorina declined to go into much detail.

However, a piece in TIME magazine on her latest book, Rising to the Challenge, elaborates on what happened to Lori, who died at 35 as a result of “struggles with alcohol, prescription pills, and bulimia.”

It’s striking, then, that 'Rising to the Challenge' opens with a detailed section about Lori’s death.

“The two police officers stood awkwardly in our living room,” the book begins. And farther down the first page: “They asked us to sit down. Frank collapsed in a chair. I sat on the carpet next to him, my arms wrapped around his knees. The police officers said our daughter was dead, three thousand miles away.”

It’s at the end of the prologue that Fiorina first unites the personal with the political: “Lori’s potential was never fulfilled but death is not the only thing that crushes potential ... What I also know is that Americans are failing to achieve their potential today.”

Whether it be America’s potential or her own family’s, her book revisits this theme of potential never being realized, according to TIME.

When Fiorina first announced her long-shot run to the White House last May she said, “Drug addiction shouldn’t be criminalized, we need to treat it appropriately."

In last night’s debate, she went so far as to say that the "war on drugs has been a failure." But she fell back on old drug war rhetoric when she followed up by saying, "That doesn't mean we should be legalizing gateway drugs," in reference to marijuana.

Second to Jeb Bush’s defense of his Mexican-American wife from Trump’s ham-handed criticisms, Fiorina’s personal moment was the second most searched for term on Google during the debate.

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.