Carly Fiorina, who is rising in the polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, said Friday she would take a harder tack against Chinese cyberattacks than President Barack Obama has.
Fiorina spoke to more than 600 people at St. Ambrose University’s Rogalski Center, part of the New Ideas Forum and the first of two stops she was making in Scott County on Friday.
The comments came the same day Chinese President Xi Jinping was making a state visit to the White House, where the subject of cyberattacks was a primary topic.
“We have to retaliate when our enemies attack us in cyberspace, and we do nothing,” Fiorina told the St. Ambrose audience.
Fiorina said the government needs a "single, centralized cybercommand" that would work with states and private companies to counter attacks.
Some U.S. officials have accused hackers working for the Chinese government of breaking into the federal Office of Personnel Management's computer system, stealing personal information. Cyberattacks on private computer networks in the U.S. also have been an increasingly difficult issue between the two countries.
On Friday, the president warned of the possibility of new sanctions as he and the Chinese president said they had reached agreement not to conduct or support hacking.
Fiorina dealt with a range of questions on Friday, including how companies can help employees balance work and home life, medical marijuana and what she learned by being fired by Hewlett-Packard.
She also acknowledged her rise in the polls, saying it’s led to more political attacks on her.
Fiorina has gained momentum since her performance last week in the CNN debate in California.
A Quinnipiac University poll, released Thursday, put her in third place behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
Fiorina’s growing popularity appeared to be evidenced by the big crowd she drew Friday.
Tom and Doris Woodruff of Davenport said they wanted somebody to be president who would follow through on good policies, and they praised Fiorina’s career experience.
“The big thing we need is a manager of this country,” Tom Woodruff said.
Kathy Driscoll of DeWitt, Iowa, said she hasn’t made up her mind whom to support but the debate impressed her.
“I thought she was wonderful,” Driscoll said, describing Fiorina as someone who stuck to issues and “stayed on point.”
At one point, a questioner asked Fiorina about how to help workers achieve a better work-home life balance.
Fiorina responded that it requires “enlightened employers” and said in her career she had supported job-sharing and leave policies. But she said she did not support governments mandating changes, which she claimed would cost jobs. Instead, she said she would “lead by example” in the White House.
A woman in the crowd also urged her to take a leadership role in promoting the use of medical marijuana.
Fiorina recalled how, when she had breast cancer, her doctor told he was glad she wasn't interested in medical marijuana because it wasn't clear how it would interact with chemotherapy and other treatments. And she added, "It is true today that if, for example, you have to go forward for some kind of transplant ... you cannot have any marijuana in your system for 30 days."
The woman objected, saying "that's no longer true."
Fiorina did not respond but noted she lost a daughter to addiction and suggested marijuana isn't as benign as drinking a beer, as she said some have claimed.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center, which fact-checks politicians, has reported that for certain versions of medicinal marijuana, there is interaction information.
Still, the issue of medical marijuana and transplants has been controversial. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in July to stop doctors and hospitals from denying transplants to medical marijuana users. The law takes effect in January.
Fiorina also spoke to her dismissal at Hewlett-Packard. She called it the result of a “boardroom brawl.” But she also noted other famous leaders had been fired, too, including Steve Jobs.
The New Ideas Forum is sponsored by the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, St. Ambrose and the Quad-City Times.
Fiorina also was appeared Friday at North Scott Rotary.