With news that Fiorina will announce her campaign Monday, we are re-posting this piece from November.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is busy ginning up the idea that there is a nascent "Run Carly Run" movement that just might convince her to run for president in 2016.
"Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd asked the Republican on Sunday how serious she is about running for president, and she said she was thinking about it, because "people keep asking."
"Well, when people ask you over and over again, you have to pause and reflect," she said. "So I'll pause and reflect at the right time."
It's a frequent move by long-shot would-be candidates -- Ben Carson for instance. People like Fiorina know that there isn't a ton of real support out there, but have every reason to make people believe there is. (If we're giving her the benefit of the doubt, maybe the people closest to Fiorina do want her to run, but that doesn't mean there's a huge national movement.)
Serious contenders never really have to make this claim, because their appeal and standing is self-evident. So far, there is little evidence of that with Fiorina. The "people" who keep asking are more like Todd than the average GOP primary voter. (One GOP strategist e-mailed, saying, "Carly has a fan club of one." Ouch.)
But that has never stopped anyone else from running for president, and it shouldn't stop Fiorina.
Let's stipulate, for good measure, that Fiorina has little shot of winning the GOP nomination. Fine.
She has much the same baggage that Mitt Romney had in 2012, and it's clear that politics is moving in a more populist direction. Her best argument is that she knows business, but even that argument brings up her $2o million severance package from Hewlett-Packard. And again, with Romney, his business background was both a selling point and a millstone.
Four years ago, Fiorina lost by 10 points to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) despite running in a top-targeted race in a good year for the GOP. She has also been involved in GOP politics at the presidential level as a surrogate and adviser.
In 2016, she could be a self-funding candidate and essentially run a shoe-string TV-studio campaign. Her Sunday-show appearance (she has also been a CNBC contributor), shows what kind of role she could play in 2016. She is sort of a Hillary-esque anti-Hillary. They have opposite policy views, but both are establishment figures, and both are women who broke glass ceilings in different rooms. Given that the field of GOP candidates is expected to be crowded, it won't take much to achieve relevance.
On the debate stage, Fiorina would likely be the only woman, and in that way, she could be a viable standard-bearer for those concerned about the perceptions of the GOP as a party of men. Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann were both cited as evidence in 2012 that the GOP had more of a big tent than they got credit for. Fiorina could play a similar role in 2016.
But she has more potential in 2016 than Cain and Bachmann did in 2012. And, perhaps most importantly, a credible presidential race could spark more vice presidential buzz -- something Fiorina's name has already been attached to. As with Sarah Palin in 2008, the GOP will be looking for a counter argument to what would be another historic run by Clinton. And with Fiorina, there wouldn't be much concern about a Palin redux.
Beyond that, a decent showing in 2016 could aid her in what might be her best path -- another shot at the Senate in California. Early reports suggest that Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are both headed for retirement. For Fiorina, running for Feinstein's seat in 2018 makes much more sense, as off-year midterm elections tend to be better for Republicans.
Even if Fiorina amounts to a "fan club of one," right now a credible 2016 could only help her extend her political career -- such as it is -- and also help the GOP with its brand problem.