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Carly Fiorina, the GOP Underdog

Carly Fiorina, the GOP Underdog
September 01
09:34 2015

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Hillary Clinton isn’t the only female campaigning for next year’s presidential elections. Carly Fiorina announced her presidential bid on May 4th, 2015, but remained obscure until the first GOP debate. Her performance in the debate won her the nickname “Carly the communicator” and she became a household name almost overnight.

But where did she come from?

Texas native Carly Fiorina had a disjointed childhood, moving frequently due to her father’s career. She attended five high schools, one of them in Ghana. Carly disappointed her parents when she dropped out of law school after just one year at UCLA. She took a job at AT&T as a sales rep at age 25 and later went on to earn her MBA from the University of Maryland and her MS degree from MIT.

Fiorina’s success in the field of network communications led her to achieve the position for which she would become famous: in 1999, Carly was hired as CEO of Hewlett Packard, becoming the first female to captain a “Fortune 100 company.”

Fiorina oversaw history’s largest high-tech merger when HP joined forces with Compaq in 2002. Hewlett Packard became the planet’s largest manufacturer of personal computers.

Things went downhill after the controversial merger and Carly was eventually forced to resign in 2005. Harsh criticism followed. InfoWorld branded her as “anti-Steve Jobs” and she appeared in lists like “worst CEOs of all time.”

Not letting the bad press get her down, Fiorina turned her eye to politics and served as adviser to John McCain during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Fiorina ran for public office during the 2010 Senate election in an attempt to unseat CA Rep. Barbara Boxer. She faced negative publicity when a controversial ad against rival Tom Campbell went viral. While she won a three-person nomination for GOP candidate, she ultimately lost to Barbara Boxer by 10 points.

What you might not know about Carly Fiorina:

Fortune Magazine’s “most powerful woman in business” 2003-2007
• Her autobiography, Tough Choices, was released in 2006 and features her rise and fall as the most powerful female executive in the U.S.
• Served as a business analyst for Fox News
• Has led Virginia charity Good360 since 2012
• Prefers to be addressed as “Carly”

While many complain that an individual who has never held public office shouldn’t run for president, Carly isn’t worried. “82% of the American people now think we need people from outside the professional political class to serve in public office,” she told Fox News.

Support for Carly surged after the first GOP debate and she has been enjoying nearly 8% of the Republican vote in recent polls – many times coming in fourth place out of the seventeen GOP contenders.

In my opinion, the best description of Carly and what she brings to the 2016 presidential race comes from a 2005 issue of The Wall Street Journal: Carly Fiorina is the perfect example of “an alluring, controversial new breed of chief executive officers who combine grand visions with charismatic but self-centered and demanding styles.”

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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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