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Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Meg McCain and Liz Cheney: Fresh Faces for the GOP

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By Kathleen Parker
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

As the Republican Party continues its pilgrimage through the desert, its leaders may be missing the oasis for the vale of tears.

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The answer to the party's woes isn't a revamped Web site (GOP.com) offering -- wowser! -- really cool social networking platforms.

The answer won't be found in the sudden realization that 83 percent of young people 18 to 24 have an online profile -- or other late-breaking revelations that merely reinforce the perception of the GOP as woefully behind the curve.

The answer is . . . drum roll, please . . . women.

If the GOP is really serious about expanding the party, it's time for the men to hush and let the pros take over. As the saying goes: If you need something done, hire a busy woman. Or, as the White House Project puts it: "Add women, change everything."

In the past few months, several conservative women have emerged as candidates and critics to challenge the notion that the GOP is the party of men. They're also putting to rest any thought that Sarah Palin is the female face of the party.

The McCain campaign had the right idea; it just picked the wrong woman.

Among the newer comers are two mega-businesswomen and two famous daughters, representing younger generations with divergent ideas. Although these aren't the only Republican women rising, they offer a glimpse at what could become a surge of hormonal correction on the conservative side.

First up in this new league of their own are two celebrity entrepreneurs. Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, is running for governor of California. And Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, plans to challenge California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Neither woman has any political experience beyond advising and stumping for Sen. John McCain during his last presidential run, but that would seem a bonus to an incumbent-weary nation.

Fiorina, the first woman to run a Fortune 20 company, has lost some of her early luster with Republican voters, according to a recent Field Poll. And Democrats have criticized her as "one of the 20 worst CEOs in the country," a bold charge from the party that propelled a community organizer with zero executive experience to the White House.

Fiorina's lower numbers are probably a reflection of her reduced visibility recently while undergoing breast cancer treatment. By contrast, her Republican opponent has been stumping to the tune of more than 160 political events since last November. A close adviser says Fiorina, who is "definitely running," is on the mend and expects to be locked and loaded in a couple of weeks.

Billionaire Whitman is running a tight race against two opponents for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, spending much of her own money along the way. If she wins -- and then defeats Democrat Jerry Brown (big ifs) -- she would become one of only four female Republican governors.


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