A British reporter from the Guardian got an inside look at American politics recently when he witnessed Carly Fiorina forcing a bunch of unwitting school children to take part in a campaign stunt at an anti-abortion rally in Iowa. Later, Fiorina was accused by some parents of “ambushing” their kids. The Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt writes:

The alleged ambush occurred when Fiorina hosted a “right to life” forum at the Greater Des Moines botanical garden. Entering the rally, before a crowd of about 60 people, she directed around 15 young children towards a makeshift stage.

The problem, one parent said, was that the children’s parents had not given Fiorina permission to have their children sit with her – in front of a huge banner bearing the image of an unborn foetus – while she talked about harvesting organs from aborted babies.

“The kids went there to see the plants,” said Chris Beck, the father of four-year-old Chatham, one of the children Fiorina appeared with. “She ambushed my son’s field trip.”

Gabbatt adds that an anti-abortion activist joined Fiorina onstage. “This is the face of abortion,” the activist said, holding a scale-model of a fetus sucking its thumb.

This real news is powered by you. Support Grist

When the Guardian reporter questioned the campaign about Fiorina’s behavior, a spokesperson said, “We were happy that these children chose to come to Carly’s event with their adult supervisor.” Uh huh. Suuure. That’s exactly how a bunch of pre-schoolers chose to spend their afternoon.

In a press release posted online Thursday, Fiorina deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur Flores attempted to undo the damage. She wrote:

In Des Moines yesterday, a group of preschoolers along with their parents and teachers followed Carly right into the event she was speaking at for Iowa Right to Life. Earlier, she’d run into the kids in the Botanical Gardens and watched the koi with them for a while. I guess the kids must have thought she was pretty neat because then their teachers and parents and the kids all followed Carly into the event complete with Carly stickers.

Sounds like a regular Pied Piper, that Carly.

The remainder of the event was just as unhinged, as the Guardian reporter observed:

Fiorina, who is polling at 1.5% in Iowa, spoke for about 15 minutes before taking questions from the audience. The crowd was elderly.

“When are we going to start doing big things again?” asked a grey-haired man, who said the country did big things when he was a boy.

“We have to take our country back. We have to take our country back,” Fiorina said. “We can do big things again but we’ve got to take our country back.”

Fiorina didn’t mention exactly who we’ve got to take our country back from, so if you happen to run into the presidential wannabe, maybe you could ask her. But, please, keep an eye on your children.