If Hillary Clinton’s biggest advantage in 2016 is her gender, that advantage got a little bit smaller on Monday. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina officially threw her hat into the ring on ABC’s Good Morning America. “Yes, I am running,” Fiorina said. “I think I’m the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world, who’s in it.”
Fiorina begins with a few obvious disadvantages, the chief one being her lack of political experience. She has never held public office. Her sole foray into politics was a failed Senate bid in 2010. She also lacks name recognition, making her bid for the nomination an uphill battle. On the other hand, her role as a Washington outsider and a private-sector success story could be enough to help her overcome the challenges.
Of all the candidates in the field, Fiorina may be Hillary’s harshest critic. She has been hammering the Democratic nominee since CPAC, where she said, “She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own office’s pay standards…Hillary likes hashtags, but she doesn’t know what leadership means.”
Her announcement was filled with more pointed criticism aimed at the former secretary of state. “[Hillary] has not been transparent about a whole set of things that matter,” she said on ABC. She then went through a list of concerns, including Benghazi, the email scandal, and the Clinton Foundation donations. She said Hillary “clearly is not trustworthy.”
Fiorina’s entry into the race provides a needed counterweight to Hillary’s gender-focused campaign. There will be things Hillary can say that will be tough for a Republican male to refute without coming off as ignorant, bullying, or defensive. Fiorina will not have that problem. She’s a long shot maybe, but merely by running she has a chance to shift the feminism conversation to conservative ground. She may even give on-the-fence female voters something to think about.
Fiorina’s decorated career, her passionate and engaging style of speech, and her role as a rare Republican female contender could conspire to give her a stunning upset victory. But even if that doesn’t happen, she seems poised to be a strong conservative voice for years to come. If the eventual nominee is looking for a VP running mate, he could do worse than to consider Fiorina for the ticket.
The 2016 primary season is shaping up to be one for the ages. The Democrats are putting all of their eggs into the Clinton basket, but the GOP race is wide open. Fresh, young voices will debate the future of the party and the future of the country, and it is going to be interesting to watch. If Republicans can listen to what America wants – if they can stand up proud with a conservative message that speaks to everyone – then they have a golden opportunity to take the White House.