Plutocrats get another 2016 candidate: Carly Fiorina edition

The former Hewlett Packard CEO and failed Senate candidate has her eye on a new job. Why Fiorina '16 is so absurd

By Luke Brinker

Published September 26, 2014 7:22PM (EDT)


From the Department of Answers to Questions Nobody was Asking, we received this nugget yesterday: why yes, former Hewlett Packard CEO and failed Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is giving serious thought to a White House run in 2016.

We last saw Fiorina dumping $5 million of her own money into her U.S. Senate campaign against California’s Barbara Boxer, only to lose by 10 points. Perhaps realizing that California voters were unlikely to grow any more receptive to an anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-environment, stridently pro-gun Republican, she soon decamped for Virginia. And in an appearance before the National Press Club last year, she teased another run for political office. She didn’t mention a specific race she was eyeing, but there was a U.S. Senate race in her new home state the next year.

Of course, defeating Sen. Mark Warner – who’s now trouncing his GOP opponent in the polls – would’ve been a tall order, especially for a carpetbagger like Fiorina. So she appears to be contemplating an even more quixotic quest. National Journal notes that Fiorina has made the requisite trips New Hampshire and South Carolina, and is on her way to Iowa this weekend.

“People ask me [if I’ll run in 2016] a lot,” Fiorina told the magazine, “so if you get asked that a lot you have to think about it—you have to consider it. I'm flattered by the question and I have to consider it.” (Memo to anyone who wants to launch a presidential bid: the first step is always saying that people come up to you all the time just begging you to make a go of it. Say this even if, truth be told, your own family members think the idea is insane.)

The rationale for a Fiorina candidacy, National Journal says, is twofold. First, despite losing the only campaign she’s ever run and her lack of government experience, Fiorina would bring her business acumen to the table. Actually, Fiorina’s tenure at HP was notoriously stormy, to say nothing of how running a profit-making enterprise and running a government are not the same thing. And as Mitt Romney's 2012 bid underscored, a business background is just as likely to be a liability in a presidential race as it is to be an asset.

Moreover, the GOP seems to think that a few more female faces will alleviate its problem with women voters – even if, like Fiorina, they adhere to the party’s anti-choice dogma. Look no further, though, than the performance of conservative female Senate candidates in this year's midterms. Even running against male opponents, recent polls show both Iowa's Joni Ernst and Michigan's Terri Lynn Land losing women voters. It's candidates' issue positions, not their internal plumbing, that matters.

A Fiorina bid makes even less sense when you realize that there are already plenty of potential GOP candidates who fit her profile – like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Mitt Romney, she’d likely compete for the backing of the party’s well-heeled donor class, emphasizing a “pro-business” economic message while also harboring (but trying not to talk about) down-the-line conservative social views. Party plutocrats are already having a difficult enough time choosing which candidate to back in 2016; between their current indecision and President Obama’s constant insistence on hurting their feelings, their lives are already difficult enough without Fiorina’s entreaties.

Personally, though, I’d be glad to see Fiorina take the plunge – if only for the chance to see Demon Sheep: The Sequel.

Luke Brinker

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