Carly Fiorina on Rose Bowl tweet: ‘It was tongue-in-cheek, for heaven’s sakes!’

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Carly Fiorina says she was just kidding when she declared she was rooting for Iowa to beat Stanford, her alma mater, before Friday’s Rose Bowl.

“It was tongue-in-cheek, for heaven’s sakes,” Fiorina said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

The Republican hopeful sparked something of a New Year’s firestorm by tweeting her allegiance to the Hawkeyes instead of the Cardinal.

“Love my alma mater,” Fiorina wrote in Twitter a few hours before the game, “but rooting for a Hawkeyes win today.”

The tweet drew immediate scorn from political observers and, perhaps even worse for Fiorina, college football fans — with both groups accusing the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive of shameless pandering to potential Iowa caucusgoers.

“Pandering on political issues is one thing, but our sports teams should be sacred,” Aaron Blake wrote in the Washington Post. “Changing one’s position on immigration for political expediency is forgivable; you are supposed to be doing what your constituents want, after all. But doing it on sports teams demonstrates a character flaw that, to any sports fan, simply cannot be overlooked.”

Stanford dominated Iowa, winning 45-16. Amid the thrashing, Hawkeyes fans took to Twitter to accuse the candidate of jinxing their team.

Even Susan Rice, White House national security adviser and Stanford alum, mocked Fiorina.

“Can’t a girl ever have a little bit of fun?” Fiorina said Sunday. “That was a tongue-in-cheek tweet that the people of Iowa understand. Because I was asked over and over again in Iowa, having attended a Hawkeye tailgate … they knew my heart was torn.

"You would think, based on this reaction, that I had said something really controversial like, you know, ‘ISIS is a J.V. team’ or 'This demonstration was the result of a video,’” she continued. “Let’s just say if the biggest mistake I make is a tongue-in-cheek tweet about a Rose Bowl, the American people will sleep safely when I am president of the United States.”

According to the most recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll of likely GOP Iowa caucusgoers, less than 2 percent say they plan to vote for Fiorina.

Earlier in the interview, Fiorina was asked about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s prediction that he’ll have the Republican presidential nomination locked up by the end of March.

“Ted Cruz is just like any other politician,” Fiorina said. “He says one thing in Manhattan, he says another thing in Iowa — he says whatever he needs to say to get elected.”

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