Government & Politics

Fiorina Brings Business Acumen to GOP Field

Former HP CEO joins a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse group.

Lewis Morris · May 5, 2015

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina officially announced her bid for the White House Monday, becoming the fourth Republican (followed immediately by the fifth, Ben Carson), to join a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse field of candidates.

Fiorina, best known for her six years as CEO of tech giant Hewlett-Packard (HP), announced her candidacy in a video that started out with a swipe at Hillary Clinton. “Our Founders never intended for us to have a professional political class,” Fiorina said, adding, “We know the only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is leading it.”

Fiorina has taken a number of shots at Clinton in recent weeks at appearances in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere, pointing out Clinton’s glaring failures as secretary of state and calling out her appalling hypocrisy. For example, Fiorina noted Hillary “tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights.”

We bet she could teach Hillary a few things about email servers, too.

In her announcement, Fiorina called for an end to the very identity politics Clinton and her ilk employ to turn America upside down. Fiorina insists the fact she is a woman negates the shield that seems to exist around Clinton, making male opponents reluctant to engage her majesty for fear of being called a misogynist or worse. Of course, that won’t stop liberals from attacking Fiorina. After all, they invented identity politics, which means they can break their own rules whenever they choose.

Fiorina has made the economy a focal point of her bid. “The real reason why our economy isn’t helping everyone is because we are destroying more businesses than we are creating,” she says. Her platform calls for undoing complex regulations that are strangulating business growth and for bringing an end to the “web of dependence” that both traps the poor and creates more poverty.

Fiorina’s business background gives her some authority in this regard. A self-made woman who started her career at AT&T and went on become an executive at Lucent, a French telecommunications company, Fiorina became the first woman to run a Fortune 20 company when she took over as CEO of HP in 1999. During her tenure, HP became the world’s largest computer manufacturer, but her reputation was damaged after the company laid off 30,000 workers and she was ousted in a board-room fight in 2005.

While shattering the glass ceiling works in Fiorina’s favor, the messy details behind her removal as CEO leaves her open to accusations for being a bad boss who fired tens of thousands of employees. She is also going to face a lot of heat for being one of the dreaded One Percent, a CEO in a time when being the boss of a major international company automatically makes you a bad person in the eyes of much of the country. A website that runs under a URL her team neglected to purchase — carlyfiorina.org — is already going after her for the HP firings.

Fiorina’s political background is sparse. She served as an adviser to John McCain’s ill-fated 2008 campaign, and ran for Senate against Barbara Boxer in 2010. She won a hard fought Republican primary (who can forget her hilariously infamous “demon sheep” ad), but lost to Boxer in the general election by 10 points. It is California, after all.

There’s no denying Fiorina’s candidacy is a long shot. Perhaps she’s really running for the more realistic possibility of a vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket.

Yet she remains undeterred by the attacks that have already come her way. She’s certainly comfortable with her track record running a $90 billion company, and she uses it to provide a contrast to Hillary, whose accomplishments boil down to marrying Bill and using that to secure a couple of political posts. Fiorina says, “I come from a world where speeches are not accomplishments. Activity isn’t accomplishment. Title isn’t accomplishment. I come from a world where you have to actually do something; you have to produce results.”

Now we’ll see if Carly Fiorina can continue producing results in the world of politics.

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