In a discussion of marijuana legalization and drug rehabilitation during Wednesday night's second GOP debate, candidate Carly Fiorina mentioned that she had lost a child to drug addiction. Lori Ann Fiorina, Carly Fiorina's child who died in 2009 at age 35, had a history of alcohol and prescription drug abuse, as well as bulimia. Lori Ann was Carly Fiorina's stepdaughter, and the biological daughter of Carly's husband Frank Fiorina, who she married in 1985.
"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. "My husband Frank and I buried a child to drug addiction. We must invest more in the treatment of drugs."
Fiorina's biography, Rising To The Challenge, opens by talking about Lori Ann's death, recounting when two police officers came to her door to tell her and her husband the news.
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.
In the book's prologue, Fiorina wrote:
At that moment, we lost both the woman she was and the woman she could have been.
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.
Lori Ann's death appears to have informed the candidate's view that drug addiction should not be criminalized and that we need to "treat it appropriately" — an uncommon opinion in the Republican party.
"We are misleading young people when we tell them marijuana is just like having beer. It's not. And the marijuana they're smoking today is not the same marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago," Fiorina said. "We need to tell young people the truth. Drug addiction is an epidemic and it is taking too many of our young people. I know this sadly from personal experience."