Carly Fiorina jumped into the Republican race for president on Monday, taking presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton on directly and charging that Americans are tired of a “professional political class” governing the country.
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO cast herself as a business leader and not a politician, saying she has executive experience making “a tough call in a tough time” and understands how the economy works.
“Our founders never intended us to have a professional, political class,” Fiorina said in a 60-second announcement video, which opens with a clip of Clinton announcing her run for the presidency. “We know the only way to re-imagine our government is to re-imagine who is leading it.”
Fiorina, the only woman in a crowded Republican field, has earned points among Republican voters for sharp critiques on Clinton, whom she said is “not trustworthy.”
“People of all political persuasions now believe that there is a huge gulf between their lives and what the professional political class is concerned about, and Hillary represents that professional political class in so many ways,” Fiorina said, fielding questions from reporters in a 40-minute conference call after her announcement.
Fiorina, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in 2010, barely registers in Republican polls and acknowledged she’s unlikely to raise as much money as her rivals.
But she noted “greater reception” to her candidacy than some had expected and said she was confident she could raise sufficient money to compete.
“We may not raise as much as many others in this race, but we’ll have the money to do what we need to do,” she said.
She noted that she announced her Senate bid in California just a year before the election, even as she was recovering treatment for cancer.
“Nobody gave me a chance, I was nowhere in the polls,” she said. “Seven months later, I won a three-way primary with 57 percent of the vote. “
She said that despite the loss to Boxer, she won considerable numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents.
“I’ve demonstrated that I can unify the party, reach beyond the party,” she said.
Her low poll numbers could keep her out of the Republican debates when they begin in August, but Fiorina said she was “reasonably confident” she’d make the cut and appear on stage.
“There are a whole set of things that indicate momentum and interest and I think we’re generating that already,” she said. “I think the polls will come along in due time, but I’m not particularly concerned about them.”
She charged that President Barack Obama’s administration has “made the world a more dangerous place.” She called for arming Ukraine and the Kurds and sending weapons to Jordan to battle Islamic militants.
She also criticized the administration’s proposed Iran deal, saying her second call after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “He might not take the call, but he would get the message,” she said, adding that she’d tell him the U.S. would impose sanctions until Iran “open themselves up to full and unfettered inspections.”
She said she’d also call the head of the Democratic Party to pledge interest in working together.
Fiorina touted her technology prowess, but that didn’t prevent her fledgling campaign from making a tech mistake when it neglected to register the domain carlyfiorina.org. Someone else did and used the site to hammer Fiorina on the layoffs she oversaw during her tenure at Hewlett-Packard.
“Carly Fiorina failed to register this domain,” the site reads. “So I’m using it to tell you how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard.”
Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager, Sarah Isgur Flores, said she was confident “people will find their way to www.carlyforpresident.com and find out why Carly is the right woman for the White House.”
Democrats made it clear Fiorina’s business record would be a target, charging that it “consists of mass layoffs, tumbling stock prices and a failed merger.”
Fiorina has attracted notice on the campaign trail through trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, and she’s beginning to replace memories of her “underwhelming” 2010 Senate bid with “strong, finessed criticism” of Clinton, said Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler.
“Her experience as HP chief shows she has achieved professional success without any help from Washington or from a famous political husband,” Meckler said. “She has taken many people by surprise, including tea party voters, who like what she has to say but want to see more.”
She backed repealing Obama’s signature health care program and said she opposes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally, but suggested that “at some point they may be able to earn legal status.”