My first recollection of former CEO Carly Fiorina was her ill-fated Senate run in 2010. Right after the election, I moved to Washington, D.C. for an internship with the American Association of Christian Schools. In that role, I attended a variety of coalition meetings both on an off the Hill. No one in the political class thought she had a chance against entrenched incumbent Barbara Boxer (D-CA). However, I admired her for running as a pro-life Republican in a deep blue state like California. In spite of her loss, I gave her credit for throwing her hat in the ring (pun intended).
My next memory of her was at pro-life event hosted by the March for Life on Capitol Hill. The event, “Women Know Best”, was a panel discussion on a range of women’s issues. Majorie Dannennfelser (Susan B. Anthony List President), former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Mercedes Schlapp (Cove Strategies), Jeanne Monahan (March for Life President), and the other panelists made the case that all issues are women’s issues and encouraged attendees to push back on the so-called “War on Women” mantra. There were about 40-50 people at the event which lasted for several hours. After the panel discussion, Carly gave the keynote address. I remember thinking that she was someone to watch in the future. (I had the same feeling watching then Senator Barack Obama (2004) and former Mayor of Houston Julian Castro (2012) give their respective keynotes at DNC Conventions. Senator Obama is now President Obama and Castro is the current HUD Secretary and a Clinton campaign surrogate. What can I say, I have an instinct for these things.)
Carly held the room spell-bound with her delivery. Her aspirational tone and powerful storytelling made an indelible impression on me. She related the heart string tugging story of how her mother in law chose to have her son in spite of counsel to the contrary from her doctor. She discussed how micro-finance was helping women around the world lift themselves out of poverty. She exhorted us all “to stand up and say what we believe and why”. I found her to be a compelling speaker with the fierceness of a Michele Bachmann and the delivery of a Marco Rubio. (I should have shook hands with her afterwards and thanked her for her thought-provoking speech but I was chatting with Rep. Buerkle who had spoken at events for my organization in the past.)
During this election season, I felt that she was always running for the role of Vice President. Her eloquent debate performances made her seem like the proverbial adult in the room at times. Unlike some candidates (here’s looking at you Governor Kasich), she knew when to exit the race and endorse someone else.
Carly’s Statement on Suspending Presidential Bid: “To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership.”
In recent days, you could see that Ted Cruz admired her tenacity and the fact that she stood by him when he was being smeared by the tabloids. She and Senator Cruz make a formidable ticket and I wouldn’t want to face them on a debate stage. I was pleased to hear that he picked her for a running mate.
(I’ll post another blog about my thoughts on her as a VP.)