With the ever-growing field of GOP candidates vying for the 2016 presidential election, Republican primary voters are inevitably facing an increasingly stark choice – both in substance and in rhetoric – between conservative firebrand Ted Cruz of Texas and the more moderate Jeb Bush of Florida, who may have a broader appeal nationwide but not necessarily within his party’s conservative base. Among the many GOP contenders,
Carly Fiorina stands out from her less well-known peers as she has skillfully managed to move away from being a long-shot candidate to potentially becoming a GOP frontrunner by engaging in substantive policy discussions on issues ranging from the economy to how to define America’s role in the world.
Fiorina has become a viable candidate for the presidency as she has skillfully managed to portray herself as a competent leader – whose meritocratic rise from a secretary to become Hewlett Packard CEO – is a centerpiece of her campaign strategy. At the same time, she has been able to convincingly answer though questions about why she was ultimately fired from the job and about HP’s declining market value during her tenure as CEO. While Fiorina is certainly not the first CEO to have been fired, Americans recognize that personal failures are critical in order to achieve eventual success. Fiorina’s most important success at HP was undoubtedly her impressive ability to climb the ranks from secretary to CEO, a success story that is likely to resonate with voters as she embodies the American Dream and what can be achieved through hard work and determination. These experiences are key for a president to have as managing the colossal Federal Government in Washington can be a daunting task, let alone manage the endless foreign policy crises around while keeping the homeland safe and secure.
A Compassionate Conservative, Pragmatic Leadership
Beyond Fiorina’s impressive credentials, her campaign focus centers on why she has the necessary credentials – and vision – to unlock the potential of every American so that he or she can achieve the American Dream, like generations of Americans before them. For Fiorina, this is not empty political rhetoric but rather an understanding of the fact that while America’s middle class continues to be squashed by high taxes and wages not keeping up with inflation, the growing inequality between the poor and what she calls “crony capitalism” is also threatening the very fabric of our society. Given these trends, Fiorina continues to underscore throughout her campaign that it is only by untangling the web of government dependency that can help Americans achieve their “God given potential” to realize their dreams and aspirations. She also understands that what has made America great -and its people prosperous – is not the government, but rather the people’s ability to build wealth through private enterprise and hard work.
A Robust Foreign Policy?
From the outset, President Obama’s Middle East policies have predictably been criticized by neoconservatives who have long been critical of the White House’s relatively “soft touch” approach to the region, notably its hesitance to get the United States more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war. However, with the rise of ISIL as a threat to Iraq during the summer of 2014 followed by Russia’s decision to annex Crimea and subsequent support for anti-government rebels in eastern Ukraine, a growing sentiment is emerging among the U.S. populace that the administration’s foreign policy is fundamentally adrift. Adding to the perception that under President Obama, the United States has turned into a declining power, without the will to protect its global interests, alleged Chinese hackers have carried out a string of recent high-profile cyber attacks against U.S. government websites with seeming impunity. By measuring how President Obama has failed enforce his own “redlines” in Syria coupled with his relatively timid response to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and China’s increasing assertiveness in the Asia & Pacific, it is not surprising that many Republicans are distrustful of the administration’s Iran engagement.
Meanwhile, continued insistence on “regime change” in Iran through a “military option” as advocated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by some GOP hawks has been unrealistic from the outset given how advanced Tehran’s nuclear program was when the Obama-administration came into office in early 2009. The administration, for its part has from the outset presented a false choice between war and engagement. By failing to obtain support from Republicans and Israel for its Iran engagement prior to beginning talks, the administration has inevitably compromised its negotiation position.
On Iran, Fiorina does not oppose talks, but criticizes the administration over its negotiating tactics. “Tactically, I also think it’s a huge error for the President of the United States to declare victory in a Rose Garden ceremony when only a framework agreement has been decided,” Fiorina said in an interview with Fortune in April. “What that signals is that this President is now committed publicly to getting this deal. My prediction is that the Iranians will spend the next two months trying to get a better deal. I’ve negotiated plenty of deals. If you want a good deal, you’ve got to be willing to walk away from the table.”
For the Jewish community, Fiorina’s ability to distance herself from divisive social issues makes her a particularly appealing candidate as her common sense approach to issues ranging from the economy to foreign policy helps explain why she has been able to distinguish herself as a viable candidate with an appeal beyond the GOP’s traditional caucus. Her ability to provide substantive answers to complex policy issues without restoring to empty ideological rhetoric makes her a particularly appealing candidate for Americans tired of partisan gridlock. If elected, Fiorina is therefore uniquely positioned to repair the U.S.-Israel strategic alliance.
At this point in time, America needs a fresh perspective in the White House and a leader who is not afraid of making tough decisions but yet understands that governing is not about politicizing the national discourse but about making life better for ordinary Americans in this extraordinary country. With Americans growing increasingly frustrated with our political class – mostly comprised of career politicians – who seem more concerned with protecting their own powers and privileges, Fiorina stands out as the most capable contender for the presidency.
Sigurd Neubauer is a graduate of Yeshiva University in New York, where he studied Jewish history and political science. He is an internationally recognized Middle East expert and an active member of the Silver Spring Jewish community.