Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has spent 2015 establishing herself as the GOP's top critic of Hillary Clinton. Now that she's officially entering the race, that's a role she'll continue to play within the 2016 Republican field. To what end, however, remains an open question.
Fiorina, whose electoral claim to fame is running unsuccessfully against California Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010, enters the race as a relative long shot: She doesn't have any experience in elected office, and her chief accomplishment was her tenure as CEO of HP—a position she was ousted from in 2005.
That's not the standard résumé for a presidential contender, but Fiorina says she believes she has other attributes to make up for it. The candidate has thus far been among the field's bravest in going after Clinton. That's particularly true on issues of gender, where Fiorina—as the field's lone high-profile female contender—has an avenue that other candidates don't.
"She tweets about women's rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights," Fiorina said of Clinton at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. "She tweets about equal pay for women, but won't answer basic questions about her own office's pay standards."
The Clinton attack strategy is one Fiorina has been methodically road-testing since last summer when she launched her women-focused super PAC, the Unlocking Potential Project. From that platform, Fiorina became the GOP's chief voice pushing back against Democrats' "war on women" rhetoric, which served as a natural first step toward the Clinton rhetoric Fiorina employs today.
But to be viewed as anything but a long shot, Fiorina will have to provide a rationale for her campaign beyond her Clinton criticism. A CNN/ORC poll of the Republican primary from February put Fiorina at just 1 percent nationally; a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll from January put her at just 1 percent in Iowa as well.
She faces long odds in the large GOP field—and though she earns the praise of many in the Republican Party, some say they see her more as a vice-presidential candidate or potential Cabinet member than the party's 2016 nominee.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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