Recently some detractors and uninformed people have called Carly Fiorina’s conservatism into question. While I’m unaffiliated with any campaign and uncommitted to any candidate I do think it’s imperative to state Ms. Fiorina has more than earned her conservative stripes.
First and foremost, Carly’s pro-life credentials are outstanding and she’s proving it consistently on the campaign trail. As the hideous Planned Parenthood videos have circulated, no candidate has been more vocal in calling for defunding Planned Parenthood than Carly. In spite of the national media’s refusal to cover the videos, Fiorina forced the issue onto the national agenda with a powerful, moving indictment of Planned Parenthood in the CNN debate.
She has publicly called on Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to defund Planned Parenthood and force President Obama to shut down the government if he refuses to go along. She has called both of them out publicly and repeatedly for a) not delivering on the promises they and GOP candidates made to voters in the 2014 election, b) betraying grassroots conservatives and Republicans by continuously caving to President Obama; and she has c) told them if they continue to do so they should step aside.
This is one reason why she’s rising in the polls and has become one of the leaders in the GOP race: she is tapping into the same feelings of deep frustration that grassroots conservatives, rand-and-file Republicans and Tea Party supporters have felt for so long about Washington.
She has consistently said securing our borders comes first before anything else with regard to immigration; she wants to do away with runaway spending and start with zero-based budgeting so every aspect of the federal government would have to justify its funding – no more automatic increases. She has an A rating from the NRA, emphatically supports the Second Amendment and she believes in pro-growth policies: reducing the tax code to just three pages, lowering rates and closing loopholes.
She continues to advocate for choice and competition in education and has passionately railed against cronyism telling the Road to Majority Conference earlier this year: “It’s not big business that is hurting. Big business really does great with big government. It’s called crony capitalism.”
It was nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas who was almost prophetic when he wrote about Carly back in April: “But watch her in the coming debates and see if you don’t notice a little Margaret Thatcher in her. Like Thatcher, Mrs. Fiorina is tough and smart.”
What also has been most unfortunate is the complete mischaracterization of Carly’s work at Hewlett-Packard where she was the first woman CEO of a Fortune 50 company. This is where some conservatives hurt our own cause: they claim to understand business but they don’t do their homework.
Fiorina has a great record to tout and she does so, including doubling the size of HP to $80 billion. She took the company from 1.2 percent growth when she started (sounds like our GDP under Obama) to 6.5 percent growth when she left. During her five years there, HP went from a total of 10,000 patents to 30,000.
But most importantly, she saved that company with a venture that took vision and guts – something severely lacking in Washington. She led HP’s merger with Compaq, a very controversial move at the time that was proven to be right.
Five years after the merger Craig Barrett, the former chairman of the board of Intel, wrote: “The merger of HP and Compaq was an unqualified success. It helped transform HP into the largest computer manufacturer in the world and provided a strong foundation for HP’s current success under its very capable management team.”
Carly’s critics are wrong, as Holman Jenkins noted in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago: “Look at HP’s stock chart under Ms. Fiorina, who had the misfortune to arrive eight months before the tech bubble burst: It’s indistinguishable from Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Cisco, etc. By the idiotic standard her critics apply, John Chambers is the worst CEO in history, since in 15 years he never made back the wealth Cisco lost in the crash.”
What’s perhaps the most intriguing about Carly is her take-no-prisoners attitude towards likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. She has called Clinton out publicly and repeatedly for lying (yes, she uses that word) about Benghazi, her emails and her server. She has publicly and repeatedly challenged Clinton – or anyone else for that matter – to name a single accomplishment.
They can’t. There’s no doubt in my mind Fiorina would run circles around Clinton if the two were to debate.
Carly has been underestimated from day one, and I’d urge my fellow conservatives to not underestimate her going forward. To Carly and staff, I urge you not to miss many more big opportunities, like the Values Voter Summit, to showcase your leadership.
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union, and on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.