Carly Fiorina’s Tireless Drive
The annual Scandinavian Days parade in this little north-central Iowa town had barely started when Carly Fiorina fell to the back. Before long, she trailed the high school marching band, the Boy Scouts, the antique cars, several tractors and a miniature van powered by natural gas. Her own float, an Iowa GOP truck trailer blasting Journey#8217s #8220Don#8217t Stop Believin#8217,#8221 could no longer be seen or heard.
But that was just another opportunity for the former Hewlett-Packard CEO to come from behind. Adversity and bad luck tend to drive Fiorina, and she has suffered more of both in the past decade than many see in a lifetime. Fired from her CEO job in 2005, she decided to launch a 2010 California U.S. Senate campaign a day after a doctor told her she had breast cancer. Months later, her drug-addicted adult stepdaughter Lori Ann died alone in her New Jersey apartment. Fiorina campaigned through the mourning and chemotherapy only to lose by 1 million votes. As Fiorina put it to her best friend and campaign manager at the time, Deborah Bowker, the morning after Election Day, #8220What were we thinking?#8221
Then Fiorina decided to aim higher#8211for the White House. When she signaled her intent to get into the race six months ago, few took her seriously. Now she is getting second looks, partly for her biting criticism of the only other woman running, Hillary Clinton.
Certainly, the parade snafu didn#8217t daunt her. #8220We#8217ve lost our group,#8221 Fiorina, 60, called to an aide. Then she started to sprint, across lawns and through crowds of children hoarding candy and seniors in picnic chairs. At one point she hopped onto the running board of a John Deere for half a block, stopping to greet another potential voter while urging her supporters on. #8220Oh, Jenna, you#8217re just showing off now,#8221 Fiorina called to one preteen volunteer who ran ahead to pass out more candy bars.The Brief Newsletter Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now. View Sample Sign Up Now
Fiorina ought to know. Her onstage verve has made her an unexpected early star of the GOP campaign, where she regularly gets the loudest ovations after delivering the most rousing speeches with the sharpest one-liners. But there is another, far more personal, side to her crusade. She is billing herself as someone who understands the darker side of life. She argues that her experience with personal setbacks is a quality that voters should be shopping for in a leader. #8220It is the flat look of hopelessness,#8221 Fiorina will say, describing what she saw in her stepdaughter#8217s eyes before she died. #8220But it#8217s not just addiction or death that wastes potential. I see that look in too many Americans#8217 eyes now.#8221