Kathryn Lopez

Christine O'Donnell was ecstatic on election night. The winner of the Republican primary in Delaware was happy and beaming and passionate -- she's a natural in front of television cameras -- as she celebrated her unconventional win. Watching that image, Chris Matthews on "Hardball" announced, "I think she beats out Carly Fiorina in the likeability department."

I suppose it depends what your meaning of likable is. I like candidates who know who they are and appear completely comfortable in their own political skin. That pretty well describes Fiorina, the Republican nominee for Senate in California.

But Matthews was onto something undeniable. While Fiorina was one of the original "Mamma grizzlies" endorsed by Sarah Palin and the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List, the image doesn't quite seem to fit for the former CEO. She's not a perky takedown artist from Delaware. She's not an exotic (to us lower 48ers) lipsticked pit bull from Alaska. She isn't easily labeled.

Hers is a "a solid, conservative economic message that find common ground with the independent women voters on economic issues for the general election," as Mercedes Schlapp, mother of four girls, media consultant and veteran of the George W. Bush administration, sees it. And Fiorina also happens to be a pro-life, pro-marriage conservative, running against, three-term incumbent Barbara Boxer, a foremost advocate of legal abortion. But Fiorina doesn't make those the most prominent aspects of her campaign. She simply seeks to bring her life experience to the political table in service of the people of California.

"Carly is not running away from her views, but chooses to stay focused on the issues that matter most to voters," Marty Wilson, her campaign manager, explains. "Because of Carly's background as a business leader, she is afforded the best of both worlds. Values voters are comforted by her views, and economic conservatives can be assured that she won't support new taxes and believes the unbridled growth must be halted."

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.