“Quite a few pro-life candidates sound like they’re reading a poll-tested sound bite and often look like they can’t wait to move on to something else,” said Gary Bauer, a longtime conservative activist leader. “But her body language, her tone, her voice, her whole demeanor telegraphs that this is something that she feels deeply about — and she can explain why.”

Fiorina is a candidate unlike the others — a woman, a survivor of breast cancer, a mother who buried a grown stepchild who died from drug addiction. She has also long been an opponent of abortion, a view she says comes from personal experience: Her husband’s mother was advised to abort him but chose not to.

Becoming a champion of the antiabortion movement could be potent for Fiorina, one of a trio of non-politicians who are dominating the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Her forceful stance against abortion could allow her to build a direct connection to evangelicals and other Republicans, particularly in Iowa, where she has become a more serious contender.

“It’s refreshing that she’s willing to take a stand and call it the way it is and not beat around the bush about the barbaric killing of the unborn,” said Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. “She didn’t go out seeking this publicity, but her response has been fabulous.”