2016 Republicans, Debates, State of the Race, Trump, Uncategorized

Debate Preview: What Might Have Been

January 13, 2016

Rand Paul is protesting, but Carly Fiorina is more frustrated.  Not only is she back in the undercard, not only was she unable to translate the momentum from her first two debate performances into being a top, or even mid-tier candidate, but a guy who runs a company smaller than a minor Hewlett-Packard division remains center stage.

Donald Trump is not the candidate with the most experience running a huge business enterprise.  He’s not the outsider fastest on their feet in the debate format.  He’s not the non-politician candidate who knows the most world leaders, is most widely travelled, or is most comfortable going over national security details.

Carly is.  But she trails Trump by tons everywhere and hasn’t managed any traction.  I’d be angry too.  Especially when she has an equal or better favorability margin among GOP voters.  It would be one thing if like with Jeb, many Republican voters had rejected her.  They haven’t.  She’s just the third or fourth choice for way too many voters.

More acceptable to many establishment voters than Trump, Carson, or Cruz, more acceptable to Tea Party voters and those who are just pissed beyond recognition than Bush, Kasich, Christie and sometimes even Rubio, she’s this close to being the Goldilocks candidate instead of Cinderella.

As a competitive person, she was only going to hold in the anger for so long.  A new article quotes her as saying Hillary would wipe the floor with Trump in a general election.  You can see what her point is.  From the beginning, Fiorina has marketed herself as Hillary’s Kryptonite.

If Trump can’t handle Hillary, because he’s too undisciplined, has too much baggage, has pissed off too many women, whatever, why not support Carly?

Because Trump has wiped the floor with her.  If you can’t beat Trump, why would voters think you could do better than him later?  Keep in mind, Fiorina did try to beat an established liberal female politician once before and didn’t succeed.

She ran against Barbara Boxer in California in 2010 in a very big GOP year and lost by 10 points.  If you do the math, it really wasn’t a bad showing, but it’s not exactly a selling point either.

Fiorina does have plenty of qualifications.  If you were drawing up a blueprint for what a businessperson turned president would look like, she’s not too far off.  HP is way closer to managing the federal government than the Trump Organization is.  She really has met with a bunch of world leaders.  Various consulting projects for government agencies gave her insight into how to apply business lessons to government.

But Trump can control the story of the week.  Trump can keep himself in the news at all times while she often fades.  In 2010, Fiorina proved unable to control the narrative when Boxer portrayed her as an out-of-touch, greedy, ruthless CEO who got canned.

Carly learned, and did a solid job pushing back against critiques of her HP record this time.  She still hasn’t shown she can push the national narrative.  This isn’t just important for candidates.  It’s important for being President of the United States.

What might have been.  She wasn’t crazy to think someone could seriously contend for the presidency without previously winning elective office.  She wasn’t off base to think a checkered business record wouldn’t get in the way of running on business success.  She didn’t miscalculate in thinking Republican voters wanted a bold fighter.

Uniquely among all the candidates, Fiorina actually got the best of Trump in a debate spat.  She didn’t just hold her own like others, she bested him.  Carly Fiorina is positive she’s more qualified than Donald Trump to run the country.  She’s positive she can run a better fall campaign.

So damn close.  Yet so far.

 

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