MERRIFIELD, Va. — Disenfranchised voters expressed their excitement today in the wake of Monday’s announcement that former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina would seek the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election.
“I feel like my voice hasn’t been heard in Washington in a long, long time,” said Richmond short order cook Ronnie Randolph, who dropped out of high school at the age of 13 in an effort to support himself and his younger siblings. “But Carly Fiorina is going to change all that. She’s one of us. I can tell.”
The Stanford- and MIT-educated Fiorina announced her candidacy via an online video posted on Monday, becoming the latest in just a handful of women ever to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Fiorina’s announcement comes at a turbulent time for the United States, as civil unrest linked to the growing tension between law enforcement and African-American communities across the country continues to escalate at the same time that wealth inequality reaches record highs.
But the timing of Fiorina’s announcement is no accident, say Beltway insiders familiar with the emerging campaign’s strategy.
“Carly Fiorina is an opportunist in the best possible way, and she knows now is the perfect time for her to ride in on her white horse, or in this case arrive in the back of one of her chauffeured luxury sedans, to save the day,” said one insider who asked to remain anonymous. “She knows that the current climate of tension in cities like Baltimore and St. Louis calls not for traditional leadership, but the kind of leadership that can only be provided by a child of considerable privilege who once attended a prestigious all-girls school in North London.”
It’s that unique background that is resonating so loudly with the nation’s most vulnerable voters, many of whom echo Randolph’s sentiments that Washington is nothing more than a machine that caters exclusively to the nation’s wealthy elite rather than a system of representative government that makes its decisions based on the well-being of all citizens, regardless of their financial standing.
“If anyone has their finger on the pulse of my community and the challenges it faces, that person is Carly Fiorina,” said Shonda Clarkson, a 37-year-old toll collector who lives in the notoriously crime-ridden Ellwood Park section of Baltimore. “She and that advanced degree she earned at the MIT Sloan School of Management fully understand the struggles I face as a single, undereducated mother raising three children on a barely livable wage. I don’t want to say ‘she’s been there’ because she clearly hasn’t been anywhere close to ‘there’ at any point in her charmed, socially advantaged life. But she’s been there, y’know what I mean?”
Voters even appear ready to look past the 60-year-old Fiorina’s somewhat dubious corporate track record, which includes a forced resignation at Hewlett-Packard after she fought for a merger with Compaq that ultimately proved disastrous.
“Would I allow her to run my hot dog cart during a semi-busy lunch rush? No,” said 71-year-old Philadelphia street vendor Nick Treandos. “I really don’t know what she was thinking supporting that Compaq merger at a time when even a semi-literate elephant could have told you personal computers were a low-margin product at best.
“But the United States of America is not a hot dog cart nor is it a multinational information technology giant. It’s a country full of people, people who can use the guiding, no doubt perfectly manicured hand of an affluent white woman who has fully acknowledged her own failure to vote in most elections.”
Such ardent support is precisely what Fiorina was looking for when she decided to unveil her campaign in early May.
“She told me she really wanted to get a head start on the competition and hit the ground running,” said diminutive “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos, who interviewed Fiorina shortly after the former Lucent executive made her candidacy official. “That and she wanted to get the announcement out of the way before the beginning of summer dressage season, which she noted is going to require her full, undivided attention until at least September.”