Is Carly Fiorina Running?

Her people say she’s not, but it would make things interesting.
September 10, 2019
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Carly Fiorina. (Photo by MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)

As a new poll shows Trump’s approval rate slumping again, let’s engage in some late-summer speculation about yet another GOP challenger. It’s only partly based on wishful thinking.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina posted a lengthy Twitter thread on Monday, which she also posted on her Facebook page.  Here is what she wrote:

In this country, we pledge allegiance to the flag, not the president. We swear fidelity to the Constitution, not the party. Our flag is a symbol of “one nation… indivisible… with liberty and justice for all.” Our Constitution is the document that protects those liberties and delivers that justice.

When we pledge allegiance, we reaffirm our citizenship in a nation founded on ideas and ideals – not ethnicity, race, religion or origin. When we swear to “protect and defend” the Constitution, we promise to uphold the rights, the laws and the institutions that define and govern our nation.

When did so many Republicans decide that we should also pledge allegiance to The Party and swear fidelity to President Trump? I have been called “disloyal” because I am critical of Trump. I am not alone. Many others have been intimidated into silence or compelled to defend the indefensible.

It is not a citizen’s role to be a “loyal fan” of one side or the other. We have no obligation to follow party orthodoxy, whatever it is. When we silence our voices, we relinquish our power as citizen leaders to shape the nation. We abdicate our responsibility to help create a “more perfect union.” And in this country, the citizen, not the President, is sovereign.

Every elected official, including the President, is there to serve the citizenry, not the other way around. It is not a citizen’s job to “be loyal”; it is the official’s job to earn our loyalty. And when they cannot, we vote them out of office.
As citizens it is both our responsibility and our right to hold elected officials accountable: for their words, their actions and the consequences of both.

Interesting. One might almost say Very Interesting. In the Trumpian era, these are heretical, fighting words. 

But what does it mean? Could Fiorina be mulling a run? It’s not a crazy idea. As Jim Geraghty remarks, she would “quickly become the queen of the challengers.”

She’s wealthy enough to self-finance, she doesn’t have embarrassing scandals like Mark Sanford does, she doesn’t have a history of incendiary statements the way Joe Walsh does, she’s got a stronger argument about being a conservative than William Weld does, and she’s been a polished and prepared candidate.

Each of the three male candidates already in the race poses a unique threat to Trump. But Fiorina would be something else altogether. Over at Hotair, Allahpundit notes how Fiorna would fit into the emerging field. 

One thing that struck me yesterday about Sanford’s candidacy is how it complements Joe Walsh’s, two components in a broader argument against Trump. Sanford’s covering the policy part of the argument, aiming at Trump over ballooning deficits. Walsh is focusing on the character part, highlighting ways in which Trump is temperamentally unfit. An obvious missing piece in the argument, though, is women…

And, Trump has a problem with women … actually, several problems. The pussy-grabbing POTUS has a notably hard time dealing with strong women and his poll numbers are… abysmal. In the the new Washington Post/ABC poll his approval rating among women is at a dead-cat bounce of just 30 percent (64 percent disapprove).

Exit take: Fiorina’s people say she’s not running, but let’s never say never. A Fiorina challenge might not be a game-changer, since Trump is almost certainly going to be the GOP nominee, but it would be an early-inning-changer. The real threat to Trump is not that one of the challengers will beat him in a state like New Hampshire; it’s that together they might be able to garner 30, 36, 38 percent of the vote. That would do real damage; and a Fiorina candidacy would make that scenario far more plausible.

A Fiorina run would also badly rattle TrumpWorld.

Why? Because it would make great TV. And that’s something Trump understands well. Who could forget this moment?

Charles Sykes

Charlie Sykes is a founder and editor-at-large of The Bulwark and the author of How the Right Lost Its Mind. He is also the host of The Bulwark Podcast and an MSNBC contributor.