Fiorina Uses Book Tour to Recast Her Image

Fiorina hasn't ruled out politics. Of Washington, she says:
Fiorina hasn't ruled out politics. Of Washington, she says: "It is a more partisan town now, and I think that's too bad." (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
By Yuki Noguchi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 14, 2006

Carly Fiorina's multi-city book tour has been like a campaign. But if she's tired, she doesn't show it, and if she's running for office, she won't say so.

Since being fired as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co. last year, she's been trying to burnish her image -- writing her memoir, volunteering and making speeches.

"I just said I hadn't ruled out politics, no more than that," she said in an interview yesterday. "I'm not trying to be coy about it, but people talk to me about it sometimes." She did say this about Washington and politics: "It is a more partisan town now, and I think that's too bad."

She should know. This was her town before, and now she's back.

Fiorina, 52, a registered Republican, now spends roughly half the year living in a Georgetown condo overlooking the Potomac River -- a dream home that she and her husband fantasized about years ago when they sailed their boat from Pentagon City.

She cut her teeth selling telephone service to government agencies in Washington, and met her husband, Frank, while working with him at the AT&T offices at 1120 20th St. downtown. They were married at a friend's Annapolis home 25 years ago, and her stepdaughters now live in Chantilly and Richmond.

Fiorina sits on the boards of AOL founder Steve Case's investment, Revolution Health Group, and Cybertrust Inc. of Herndon. She is also on the board of the Washington-based nonprofit group Vital Voices, a leadership group for women in the developing world.

Fiorina was widely regarded as one of the most powerful American business women during her stormy tenure at HP, which ended when the company board fired her in February 2005.

Her book, "Tough Choices: A Memoir," is drawing heightened media attention partly because it is in stores just as HP is embroiled in scandal. The scandal revolves around how HP investigated leaks to the media that started late in Fiorina's tenure. Five people, including HP's former chairman Patricia C. Dunn, have been charged in California with fraud and conspiracy. .

Fiorina said bridging gaps in understanding has long been one of her key goals in relationships, business and personal. Nonetheless, Fiorina herself has been a lightning rod for business battles.

Under Fiorina, HP's board of directors fought bitterly over her decision to acquire Compaq Computer Co. against the objections of the company's founding families. She said the company suffered the "dysfunction" of an amateurish board and the whims of wealthy venture capitalist Thomas J. Perkins and George "Jay" Keyworth, who was a science policy adviser in the Reagan administration.

One of the motivations behind her book, which she said she wrote herself, was that she felt she had been publicly miscast.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company