Shortly after former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced her entry into the 2016 presidential race, social media and editorial outlets immediately revisited her tenure at HP, focusing on her U.S. job cuts and subsequent offshoring that Fiorina directed during her tenure and contrasting it with the high compensation bonuses she received from the company. It was an inauspicious beginning.
But a funny thing happened when Fiorina participated in Fox News’s first GOP debate. Failing to qualify for one of the Fox News prime-time debate slots, she was relegated to the debate airing earlier the same day. Fiorina’s effective performance led news sources to conclude she had won the early debate. Following the debate, her polling numbers would surge. And the more she debated, the more her poll numbers rose.
The National Review pointed out her role as foil to Hillary Clinton, saying, “Fiorina seems to relish the role of being the most pointed critic of Hillary Clinton. … She contrasts her background as a ‘problem solver’ with Clinton’s record as a professional politician.” Her rebukes of front-runner Donald Trump in a subsequent debate, earned her a significant spike in the polls and some polling showed her beating Clinton nationally.
But by February, she was losing traction quickly against her rivals after being kept out of prime-time debates. Fiorina suspended her campaign and endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz for presidential nominee, saying she was “horrified” by Donald Trump, and that Cruz was the only candidate who could stop him.