Going into last night’s debate, I had already planned how I would review it the following day. With 11 participants, I thought that each candidate deserved a short description of their performance and an explanation of the effect that the debate will have on each of their campaigns going forward. However, after watching the debate, I have no desire to do that anymore.
Only one candidate deserves a discussion following her performance: Carly Fiorina.
Even though she barely managed to squeak into the debate by forcing CNN to change its participation rules last week, Fiorina managed to stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field. Remarkably, she presented herself as more knowledgeable and thoughtful about foreign policy, including on Russia and Putin, than fellow political outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson. At the same time, on issues like Planned Parenthood, she came across as a stronger communicator and fighter for conservatism than career politicians like Bush and Rubio.
At this point in the campaign, Carly Fiorina has earned her place in the first tier of candidates. It is now up to the voters to ask themselves this question: What are the pros and cons of nominating Carly Fiorina? My short list follows:
- Out of the group, Fiorina is easily the best articulator of conservative values. As aforementioned, she has been the clearest and most eloquent communicator of a strong America, pro-life ideals, and free enterprise principles over the past few months. If you don’t believe me, watch Fiorina’s appearance on the View. That’s how it’s done in the face of hostile liberal opposition.
- She is not a politician. With an electorate that seems to be fixated on not just the outsider but the political neophyte, she can appeal to every voter that is sick of business as usual in Washington and wants nothing short of full-throttled change.
- Her story is one of those “only in America” stories. While Rubio may have the strongest story for emotional appeal, being the grandson of an immigrant and the son of a bartender and a maid, Fiorina is a self-made woman. She received degrees in philosophy and medieval history before turning her sights towards business and starting out as a secretary. She eventually rose the ranks to become the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. What better story is there for an American presidential candidate?
- Fiorina has only spent a very small amount of time in the spotlight during this campaign. Her rise only really began near the beginning of August, so at this point we don’t completely know who she truly is as a candidate. As the voters and journalists start paying more attention to her, this problem may disappear or it could kill her candidacy.
- She has never held political office before. While this might be a plus to her candidacy for president, this could prove very detrimental to her job performance as president. The federal government is an incredibly complicated leviathan that would be very difficult to control with no prior political executive experience (see our current president). While being a CEO is probably the most analogous position in the private sector to being president, it is still different enough to be worried about how Fiorina might handle the transition.
- Fiorina’s tenure at HP was nothing short of atrocious. HP’s stock lost 55% of its value during her administration and her decision to merge with Compaq is generally understood to be a failure. She ended up being fired only 6 years after she took over the company. While she has turned her firing into a compelling narrative about leadership and challenging the status quo in her campaign, it still doesn’t hide how bad her record is.
With these pros and cons in mind, I believe that Carly Fiorina deserves to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination at this point in the race. However, it is only the middle of September and the campaign still has about four months to go before the primaries begin. Fiorina needs to prove that she can thrive under pressure for a long period of time, while answering many of the questions that still remain about her candidacy. If she can do this well, perhaps she will transition from frontrunner to favorite.
— Connor Kitchings is the Manager of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE.