Carly Fiorina is surging right now in the GOP Presidential primary and it’s easy to see why many conservatives like her. She’s had a couple of strong debate performances where she’s tossed out good lines, she’s the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 business and she’s portraying herself as an “outsider” in a year when conservatives are justifiably sick of politicians.
Let me paint a different picture of Carly Fiorina and explain why other than Jeb Bush, she’s the candidate I’d least like to see get the nomination. Incidentally, that is really saying something given that I own http://notjebbush.com and the only reason I haven’t bothered to launch it is that Jeb has been so off-putting that watching him speak is like a commercial for “Not Jeb Bush.” Jeb is like the weird, annoying kid in school that no one would ever talk to if he didn’t have a pool. (PS: I’m leaving out Lindsey Graham here because I’m not sure anyone other than his mother will vote for him and I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if even she votes for Walker, Paul or Jindal instead).
First of all, it’s worth noting that Fiorina may have been the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 business, but she turned out to be just as bad at it as Barack Obama has been at running the country. Despite the spin she tries to put in, Carly Fiorina was a disaster for Hewlett Packard.
Fiorina’s story is that she stormed into HP, turned the company around and was unceremoniously fired because she challenged the status quo. In actuality, she insisted on a controversial merger with Compaq, got her way and it decimated the company. Fiorina loves to talk about HP’s increase in raw numbers, but if two large computer companies merge, it’s almost a given that the revenue and the number of patents produced by both companies combined are going to increase. What didn’t increase was HP’s stock price. It dropped from $55 a share when Fiorina took over to a little less than $20 a share under her leadership. There is a reason Fiorina shows up on lists of the Worst CEOs Of All Time (See here, here, here, and here among others) and it’s not because the whole business world is engaged in some kind of conspiracy to portray her as an incompetent.
Let me also add that it’s not fair that Democrats will attack her for firing 30,000 workers because unfortunately, that just comes with the territory when you’re a CEO sometimes. However, if you think it wouldn’t be incredibly effective to point out that Fiorina fired 30,000 workers, tanked the price of the company’s stock, damaged Hewlett Packard so badly that it has yet to recover and STILL walked away with 100 million dollars for being one of the worst CEOs of all time, you’re kidding yourself. For all of his flaws, Mitt Romney was a gifted businessman and the Democrats managed to falsely portray him as a heartless, greedy monster for doing far less than that at Bain Capital.
If Carly Fiorina were to say that she’d run America like she ran Hewlett Packard, it could be taken as a direct threat against the country. So, what else does she have to offer as a candidate?
Oh, right! She’s supposedly a grassroots conservative outsider! Yeah, well about that….
Fiorina has run for office before. During the Tea Party tidal wave of 2010, there seemed to be an outside chance that Republicans might be able to knock off Barbra Boxer in California. Granted, it’s California, so it was always going to be a heavy lift, but after Scott Brown had won earlier in the year in Massachusetts, it didn’t seem impossible that a Republican could pull it off.
So, as we have often seen in these last few years, a conservative grassroots candidate squared off with a moderate candidate backed by the establishment. The grassroots conservative candidate was Chuck DeVore and the establishment candidate was Carly Fiorina. Almost every big name conservative except for Sarah Palin lined up behind DeVore (and I love Sarah, but if Fiorina had been a man, there’s not a chance in the world she would have gotten that endorsement. That’s why Sarah had to deal with a big backlash from her own fans over backing Fiorina). On the other hand, the NRSC, John McCain and Lindsey Graham were all supporting Fiorina. Interesting question: When have John McCain, Lindsey Graham and the NRSC EVER backed a conservative candidate over a moderate in a competitive race? Yes, that’s right; they don’t do that. Ever.
After beating DeVore by outspending him more than 3-to1, Fiorina went toe-to-toe with charisma-free Senator Barbara Boxer and got her brains beaten in. Surprise, surprise -- Fiorina’s disastrous run at Hewlett Packard turned out to be an anchor around her neck and the fact that she was such a terrible politician that she signed off on bizarre garbage like the Demon Sheep ad (IT APPEARS at 2:26) certainly didn’t help. In a year when Republicans picked up 6 Senate seats, Boxer waltzed to a 10 point victory over Fiorina.
So, Fiorina’s a failed CEO and it would be more accurate to call her an “establishment favorite” than an outsider, but at least she’s a hardcore conservative, right? Well….not so much. Here’s Redstate on Carly Fiorina back in 2010.
From her praise of Jesse Jackson, to her playing the race and gender cards against DeVore, to her support for the Wall Street bailouts, to her qualified support for the Obama stimulus, to her past support for taxation of sales on the Internet, to her waffling on immigration, to her support for Sonia Sotomayor, to her Master’s thesis advocating greater federal control of local education, to her past support for weakening California’s Proposition 13, to her statement to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that Roe v. Wade is “a decided issue,” Carly Fiorina’s oft-repeated claim to be a “lifelong conservative” was only plausible in the universe of NRSC staffers who recruited her in the first place.
...She endorsed Federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research for “extra” embyros.
She endorsed the California DREAM Act, which grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
She refused to endorse California’s Proposition 23, which suspends the job-killing AB 32 climate-change law.
Fiorina also strongly supported Marco Rubio’s amnesty plan that even he claims not to back anymore, endorsed cap & trade and attacked Ted Cruz for being willing to shut down the government to stop Obamacare.
How do you trust Fiorina on immigration, small government issues, taxes, pro-life issues, global warming or to even try to kill Obamacare after that?
None of this means Carly Fiorina is a bad person, a liberal, a stalking horse or anything else. If you like Carly Fiorina, support her, but at least know what you’re really getting. If you’re backing Carly Fiorina, you’re backing a 0-1, establishment moderate who was an epic failure at the one thing that is supposed to qualify her for the presidency. On the other hand, Fiorina does seem to be pretty good at debating. Of course, if you’re in the market for a charismatic candidate who’s relatively moderate, Chris Christie or Mike Huckabee would seem to be a much better choice, but opinions vary.
Although it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen in a primary season as crazy as this one has been, the difference between what people THINK Fiorina is and what she ACTUALLY is, is so great that we can hazard one guess: Carly Fiorina is going to follow the 2012 pattern. People will initially get excited about her, find out what her record really looks like and then she’ll quickly implode.