If we have learned anything this summer, it is this: never count out Carly Fiorina. After being relegated to what was mockingly known as the “kiddie table” debate for the bottom seven-polling candidates on Fox News at Aug. 6, she made this debate appearance count. Fiorina was articulate, focused and confident. The media and the polls agreed that this debate was Fiorina’s coming out party.
From the beginning, the Fiorina campaign has been one of the most fascinating to watch. She has balanced appearances on political shows like “Morning Joe” and “Hardball,” as well as more mainstream programming like “The View” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” appearing with Meyers a month before Bernie Sanders did.
Fiorina’s career prior to her 2016 campaign is pretty fascinating in its own right. She started out as a secretary in a nine-person real estate firm before getting an MBA and moving up the ranks to become CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP). Her tenure at HP was rife with controversy. Fiorina’s detractors say that she came in from the outside and destroyed everything HP stood for, though she and her supporters argue that her actions as CEO were necessary for the company’s survival. After being fired in what she described as a “boardroom brawl,” surviving breast cancer and launching an unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2010, Fiorina is back and aiming for the highest office in the land.
To be clear, Fiorina is not a perfect candidate. She is basing her potential leadership in the Oval Office on her tenure as CEO of HP, which, depending on how one views her time at HP, that could either mean strong leadership in tough times or chaotic mismanagement and destruction of institutional success. Those are huge extremes and voters will need to believe that her presidency will mean the former and not the latter.
On national issues, Fiorina is a rock solid conservative with views some progressives could appreciate. She takes climate change seriously while understanding that the middle class cannot afford to pay more for pricey renewable energy technologies. She believes that common core standards are limiting how teachers should teach, stating that standardization is “always going to drive achievement down.” On every issue, she takes a principled stand, which endears her to an electorate that is tired of politicians who seem to only believe in whatever will get them re-elected.
So far, she has been able to turn the post-debate momentum into a more long-term attempt at name recognition and has seen poll bumps in both Iowa and New Hampshire. All eyes will be on her at CNN’s GOP debate on Wednesday, as she attempts to repeat her debate dominance against stronger candidates such as Trump, Bush and Walker. As the debate nears, remember what we learned: never count out Carly Fiorina.
Eitan Snyder is a sophomore majoring in music business.
Featured Image courtesy Flickr user Gage Skidmore