Before watching the CNN Republican debates I was interested to see how Carly Fiorina, the only woman on the stage with ten alpha males, would acquit herself. I didn’t watch the second tier debate in the first round, but I had heard she did well and that her subsequent improvement in the polls made it possible to debate with the big boys the second time around. I knew virtually nothing about Fiorina going into debate, so I was essentially a blank canvas on which her performance could paint.
Wow! Continuing with that analogy, I were a canvas, after the event I would have been covered in many vicious strokes of black and blood red paint. Fiorina had by far the most strident manner of all of the candidates as she described her polices which were by far the most radical set forth in the debate. At times she backed up her harsh words with facial expressions which would have made me wince if she had addressing her remarks directly to me. She was well prepared and quick on her feet, but she never once smiled and I could help thinking to myself, “Wow, what a battle ax!” She may tout her business achievements, but I wouldn’t want to work for that woman.
I also have to also severely question her integrity. During a particularly gruesome attack on Planned Parenthood, she snarled, “Anyone who has watched this videotape – I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes — watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ This is about the character of our nation, and if we do not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.” Throughout this diatribe her facial expressions showed extreme hate and disgust.
However, I later learned that Fiorina would have trouble producing that Planned Parenthood video for Clinton and Obama to view because no such video exists. The video to which she is referring was shot at another facility with no ties to Planned Parenthood. In addition the film actually shows a fetus of 19 weeks which was not aborted. It was the victim of a miscarriage, a still born child which exhibited tiny post mortem movements. Even on that film there is no discussion whatsoever of keeping it alive ‘to harvest its brain”; the fetus was already dead. So one of Carly’s biggest moments during the debate was based on a complete fabrication.
Fiorina was also less than honest in describing her performance as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. In answer to Donald Trump’s charges that she a failure in her business career, she cited HP business statistics which, if we didn’t know better, would lead us to believe she was a fantastic CEO. An investigation by the Washington Post concluded that Fiorina cherry picked the HP statistics she used during the debate to disguise how poorly HP performed under her leadership. According to the Post, “Every politician tries to put a gloss on their record, but Fiorina’s claims about her business success are questionable in almost every respect. Her statements either lack significant context or resulted from a creative cherry-picking of the facts. She earns Three Pinocchios.”
Soon after Fiorina took over at HP she made a decision that her new company would buy out Compaq, one of the world largest producers of PC’s. Key members of the HP Board of Directors took strong stances against the acquisition on the grounds that PC sales were slowing, but Carly won the resulting proxy fights and completed HP’s acquisition of Compaq. Her decision turned out to be a disaster. HP profits nosed dived and its stock price followed; she ended up eliminating 30,000 jobs.
During the debate she explained this situation by saying she managed HP through the worst technology recession in 25 years. It is true that she took over at Hewlett-Packard. after the dot com bubble burst and it was a difficult time for all technology companies, even some of the biggest like HP. However, when you compare HP’s performance to those of other large technology companies you find that this excuse is very deceptive. During Fiorina’s tenure at HP, the company’s stock price took a 50% hit. By contrast during the same period NASDAQ fell just 23% and IBM’s stock price dropped only 27%. Over that same six year time span Dell’s stock price rose 11% and the stock of Lexmark, HP’s main competitor in its important printer business, rose 29%.
It was no surprise in the business world when the Hewlett-Packard Board of Directors very publicly forced Fiorina to resign. When her resignation was announced, HP stock price immediately jumped 7%, which indicated what the market thought of Fiorina’s performance at HP. It is also telling that in the ten years since Fiorina left HP she hasn’t been offered another executive position in the business world, but now she is running for the most important executive position in the world.
Fiorina did make a bid as the Republican candidate for Barbara Boxer California Senate seat in 2010, but Boxer beat her by 10 percentage points by primarily concentrating on Carly’s business record. After the recent Republican debate, Barbara indicated that she was stunned by the audacity of Fiorina’s Presidential bid. She went to say, “She’s the face of income inequality and the face of corporate greed…. She makes Mitt Romney look like a Democrat.” Boxer went on to say, “I’ve had 11 consecutive victories. I have run against Democrats, Republicans, men, women, people of all ages. She was by far the most mean-spirited opponent I ever had.”
Well, it looks like Barbara Boxer agrees with me, and that’s not bad company to be in. On the other hand, Carly Fiorina’s persona apparently appeals to many Republican voters. Her support and favorability rating skyrocketed after the debate. She has risen to second place in the latest poll, but hey, this is the same group of voters who still have Donald Trump in first place. However, it’s going to be a long haul before the Republican nominee is finally chosen and Fiorina’s recent success is going to paint a huge bull’s eye on her back. It won’t be long before the other Republican candidates are going to be taking pot shots at Carly’s business record and she has provided them with plenty of ammunition.
If by some miracle Carly Fiorina is ultimately chosen as the Republican Presidential nominee, I expect that the Democratic contender will have any problem duplicating Barbara boxer’s victory margin. I doubt if Fiorina’s take no prisoners style which has made her popular among the Republican Party’s radical base will play so well when she is trying to attract the support of the independent voters she needs to win the Presidency. However, I expect her main problem will be in offering up her qualifications for the for the Presidency. I’m sure that the Democratic nominee will have no problem finding former HP executives and board members eager to tell the world how Fiorina almost destroyed HP and its employee centric corporate culture. If the Republican nominee’s main claim to fame is her ability to run a huge business successfully, for her opponent Carly Fiorina’s business record will be a gift that keeps on giving.