When Hillary Clinton announced her presidential campaign, one woman stood athwart history, and yelled stop.
That woman’s name is Carly Fiorina.
If you’re wondering who she is, you are not alone. Carly Fiorina is now the second woman to announce her candidacy for the 2016 presidential race, but, unlike Clinton, she is running as a Republican and she has been using her status as a foil to Hillary to attract quite a lot of attention to her campaign that is still in its infancy.
As soon as Clinton announced, Fiorina released a video that ends with a line she is now very fond of using, saying that Hillary “is not the woman for the White House.”
So who exactly is Carly Fiorina? Before becoming a presidential candidate, she was known for two major things: her tenure as chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, and her failed Senate race in 2010 in California, against Senator Barbara Boxer.
For those of us who are too young to remember, Hewlett-Packard was once a computer giant, and Fiorina made her way up the tech ladder, starting as a secretary and ending as the first woman to ever become CEO of a Fortune 20 company. She was a woman who shattered glass ceilings.
In 1998 she was named “the Most Powerful Woman in Business,” beating even Oprah.
However, as CEO of HP, she was fired in 2005 in what she describes as a “boardroom brawl,” after the company’s contentious acquisition of Compaq, which made it into the largest tech company in the world at the time. In the years since then she has served on the boards of countless charities. Her political activism began during the 2008 election, in which she was one of John McCain’s go-to advisers on the economy. She was even considered a vice presidential candidate for him. She is also currently the chair of the American Conservative Union Foundation.
In her only previous foray into running for office herself, she lost by ten points in her 2010 Senate bid, where she became best known for running a now-infamous ad, known as the “demon sheep” ad, against her primary opponent, Tom Campbell. Although she did lose this race in what was an otherwise terrific year for Republicans, California has rarely been fertile ground for statewide Republicans. In fact, Fiorina both outperformed the Republican gubernatorial candidate with whom she shared the ballot and all previous Republican senate candidates in California since 1998, despite being outspent by around $8 million.
All of these factors combine to influence the way she has been running her presidential campaign.
Shortly after her announcement, she took a lot of flack for failing to register the domain carlyfiorina.org, which takes the viewer to a website featuring thirty thousand sad faces, representing the workers who lost their jobs while she was CEO of HP and ends with a quote where she says she wished that she had fired them “faster.” This quote is misleading (and garnered a “Half True” rating from PolitiFact) because she was only referring to a select group of high-ranking officials.
Is it ironic that someone whose tech background is central to her candidacy failed to register such a basic domain name? Of course.
However, this has turned out to be a mixed blessing for her campaign, coming at a time when all of the Republican candidates are struggling to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded field. After plenty of initial criticism, Fiorina hit back at her critics by purchasing their domain names before they could mock her for this glaring oversight. Comedian Seth Meyers and news anchor Chuck Todd have both been subjected to the embarrassment of having domains featuring their names redirect to Fiorina’s presidential website (as has Hillary Clinton, for that matter).
Fiorina is making waves and her status as Hillary Clinton’s Republican foil is all but cemented, in no small part because she herself feeds this narrative, with statements such as “unlike [Hillary Clinton], I have actually accomplished something.” Expect to hear a lot more about her as the campaign progresses.