Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has dominated the headlines since she was announced as Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) vice-president should be the GOP presidential nominee. Here are five things you need to know about her.
1. She's an effective surrogate against both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and real estate mogul Donald Trump. National Review's Jim Geraghty writes that Fiorina can easily make mincemeat out of Clinton since she doesn't have to fear being smeared as a sexist, and she has even eviscerated the feminism mantra that Clinton embraces.
"Do not let others define you," Fiorina said. "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."
Fiorina is also a solid attack dog against Trump, not only because she is an outsider like he is, but because Fiorina has proven to take Trump to task for his sexist and misogynist remarks towards women. When Trump mocked Fiorina's face and offered a vague "apology" at the debate, Fiorina simply responded, "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said." Fiorina serves as a reminder that Trump's abysmal numbers with women is going to doom him in a general election matchup against Clinton.
2. Fiorina is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer the day before she launched her Senate run in 2009, and Fiorina described it as "very aggressive" and she had to undergo chemotherapy and a bilateral masectomy–not to mention the sudden death of her stepdaughter Lori–during her Senate campaign. Not only does her ability to overcome cancer in the midst of her Senate campaign and her stepdaughter's death show how tough she is, it also gives her a unique perspective on Obamacare:
Later, after Obamacare was passed, the Health and Human Services Administration changed the protocol for breast cancer screening. They recommended that women get a mammogram every other year and that they not do self-examinations. The Obama administration had concluded that this change in protocol would minimize false alarms and cost. I remember being insulted when HHS justified these changes by saying the old protocol caused too much trauma and concern. Women are tough. We can handle it. I remember thinking that if I had followed this protocol, I would probably be dead.
Fiorina has also said it "terrifies" her that breast cancer survival rates in Britain and Canada are worse than in the United States because Britain and Canada don't focus on prevention as much as the U.S. does.
3. Her record as HP CEO has drawn mixed reaction. One of the more controversial aspects of Fiorina's record was her performance as HP's CEO. The Wall Street Journal had a lengthy piece about her tenure as CEO, and they explain that HP's stock plummeted far below the company's other competitors in the midst of the tech bust and that HP did not reach the 8.6 percent profit margin in 2003 that she promised when HP merged with Compaq. Fiorina also gambled that the tech industry was in a period of "slow growth and consolidation" in 2004, which resulted in IBM expanding and purchase other companies they may have otherwise gone to HP. Ultimately, Fiorina was fired because the company's board of directors wanted her to de-centralize some her power as CEO, and she refused.
Yet those who were on the inside have a different perspective; former HP chief financial officer Bob Wayman felt that Fiorina was fired before the company reaped the benefits of the Compaq merger.
"If Carly had survived another six-to-nine months, I think she wouldn’t have been fired," Wayman told the Journal.
Former HP board member Tom Perkins, who had voted oust Fiorina, is now a staunch supporter of hers.
"He [Mark Hurd, Fiorina's successor] did a very good job of implementing the structure that Carly had put in place," Mr. Perkins said. "He was more acceptable to the mass of Hewlett-Packard employees than Carly was. I mean, Carly was a glamour figure."
4. She created a political ad that will forever live in infamy. One of the memorable moments of in her Senate run was an ad she ran against one of her primary opponents, Tom Campbell, labeling him as a "FCINO"–fiscally conservative in name only–and illustrated it by portraying him as a demon sheep. It is an ad that will never be forgotten:
Fiorina did win the primary, but lost in the general election to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
5. She is a fervent believer in simplifying the tax code. She wrote on Facebook:
As anyone who has done business with the federal government knows, in the last six weeks of every year, every government agency spends every dime. They do that because they want to make sure the appropriations process is focused on the rate of increase for the following year – not what they actually need or whether they actually need to spend it. It’s time to move to zero-based budgeting and simplify the tax code.