Carly Fiorina has recently expressed her interest in running as a republican candidate in the 2016 presidential elections. After receiving her B.A. from Stanford University and her MBA from the University of Maryland, Fiorina went on to hold an executive position at AT&T and later served as CEO of Hewlett-Packard for five years (Encyclopedia Britannica Online). What is interesting about this potential candidate, aside from her impressive accomplishments in the corporate world and being recognized as one of the most powerful women by Forbes, is her attempt to run for such a powerful political position when political experience is what her resume lacks.
After serving as an advisor on McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign (Stewart), she went on to run as a republican nominee for US Senate from California in 2010. She would eventually lose to her democratic opponent, Barbara Boxer, by ten points (Topaz), leaving voters with the question, can a successful businesswoman be as successful in the political world? So far, she has politically unproven herself to be fit however if she was to learn from McCain’s poor performance and engage with a strong audience by walking the appropriate binary lines, Fiorina just might be able to add political success to her resume.
Alexander stresses the importance of “working the binaries” in a successful campaign, meaning politicians must walk the binary lines by representing certain realms while still maintaining the civil sphere qualities (112). Luckily for Fiorina, she is able to connect with many realms.
Fiorina’s Christian beliefs have led her to take a conservative stance on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. As a Christian, not only is Fiorina tapping in to the religion realm but as Alexander states, “the American civil sphere is not Christian-free” (113) proving her faith to be an advantage. Fiorina’s corporate experience and strong support for tax-cuts and decrease in government and regulation can also lead to strong support from the business realm. Fiorina’s battle with cancer may potentionally to be an advantage for connecting with not only families but also women, which is noteworthy, considering the decrease of women voting for conservatives.
After Fiorina’s diagnosis of breast cancer in 2009, she underwent a double mastectomy followed by chemotherapy (“Carly Fiorina Is Hospitalized”). This unfortunate event could be key to connecting with female voters, an upper hand her male opponents do not have. Fiorina made a full recovery before running for US Senate, proving her resilience.
Despite Fiorina and her husband’s hefty combined net worth of $121 million (Gold), she has the potential of connecting with low and middle class citizens, a quality Romney lacked. She began her career with AT&T working in an entry-level position at the age of 25. Her hard work and success led to her promotion as the company’s first female officers and head of AT&T’s North American operations. This triumph plays perfectly into the American value of equal opportunity and that anyone can work his or her way to the top.
At the same time, her success also opens up the opportunity for criticism. Can a person valued at so much really understand the struggles of the middle and lower class? Another problem that arises for Fiorina is the lack of name recognition in the general public. This is the result of what she lacks the most, as mentioned before, and key to winning a presidential election, her lack of political experience.
Despite this major flaw, the Washington Post reports she is planning to accomplish what Nielson believes is key to a successful campaign, the ground game (12). “Fiorina started the Unlocking Potential PAC with a mission of galvanizing female voters and beefing up the GOP’s ground game. The super PAC made modest investments in four Senate races while funding Fiorina’s travel to presidential battlegrounds such as Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire,” (Rucker & Gold).
Alexander, Jeffrey C. The Performance of Politics: Obama’s Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. 111-14. Print.
“Carly Fiorina Is Hospitalized.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Oct. 2010. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/27/us/politics/27fiorina.html>.
Gold, Scott. “Fiorina Presents a Sharp Contrast in Images.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2010. Web. <http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/22/local/la-me-fiorina-20101022>.
Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis. “1.” Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2012. 12. Print.
Rucker, Philip, and Matea Gold. “Carly Fiorina Is Actively Exploring a 2016 Presidential Run, but Faces GOP Critics.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/carly-fiorina-actively-explores-2016-presidential-run-but-faces-gop-critics/2014/11/25/b317b1a2-74b3-11e4-bd1b-03009bd3e984_story.html>.
Stewart, Alan. “Carly Fiorina | Biography – American Business Executive and Politician.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/861302/Carly-Fiorina>.
Topaz, Jonathon. “Who Wants Carly Fiorina?” POLITICO. N.p., 18 Jan. 2015. Web. <http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/carly-fiorina-in-2016-114354.html>.