Carly Fiorina dropped out of the Republican presidential race on Wednesday, bringing to a close a candidacy that started out in the minor leagues before shooting up to the pros — at least for a while.
Fiorina came in seventh place in the Iowa caucuses, and then in seventh place again in the New Hampshire primary.
“This campaign was always about citizenship — taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected,” Fiorina said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.”
She also had a message to young women voters — a sort of last shot against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and her campaign surrogates’ fumbled attempts to get them into the tent against Bernie Sanders.
To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership.
At first an unlikely presidential candidate, Fiorina had a controversial tenure as CEO of computer company HP in the early 2000s and ran unsuccessfully for Senate from California in 2010, winning the Republican nomination but losing to incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. But along the way, Fiorina did provide some surprises before fading out.
Fiorina’s performance in the first undercard debate was widely recognized, so much so that at the next debate the rules were changed to ensure another slot would be added in. (There had not been enough new national polls that showed her poll averages improving, but those that did exist suggested she should have become eligible.)
That debate saw her go head to head with Donald Trump, and briefly present a possible challenge to the celebrity candidate. At this and future debates, she both pitched herself as a Washington outsider and steadily dished out attacks against Hillary Clinton. ““In your heart of hearts,” she declared, “you cannot wait to see a debate between Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina,” implying that she would able to attack Clinton without alienating women voters.
She was also notable for making blatantly false statements about the anti-Planned Parenthood videos produced by pro-life activists, alleging that one video depicted “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’” (The videos actually contain conversation about the collection of fetal tissue, and were edited to include a separate video of what experts have said was a dying fetus from a miscarriage.)
But after several debate performances, she was busted back down to the undercard stage.
Toward the end of her campaign, she began making direct attacks on Hillary and Bill Clinton’s marriage and alleging that Hillary Clinton herself belonged in prison for her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, and for fundraising by the Clinton Foundation.
The undercard debates ended after the Iowa caucuses, and Fiorina was left out entirely from last weekend’s debate on ABC News after she failed to qualify under ABC’s debate criteria. Fiorina protested the exclusion as “a rigged game,” and added that the “anybody-but-Carly network is afraid to have viewers see me because they know can I beat Hillary Clinton.”
Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks at the Growth and Opportunity Party at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, in this October 31, 2015, file photo. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank/Files