CONCORD – Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina frankly acknowledges that Democrats have been effective in convincing women that Republicans are waging “war” on them.
Fiorina, who ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Barbara Boxer in California in 2010, said Thursday the wide gender gap in New Hampshire and other key states in recent elections and polls shows “the Democrats ‘war on women’ propaganda has been successful, and it’s been successful because we haven’t stood up and fought back.”
That’s what she hopes to do in New Hampshire and five other “purple” states she views as critical to this year’s mid-term U.S. Senate elections and the 2016 presidential election through her new “Unlocking Potential” (UP) Project super PAC.
Fiorina visited the Granite State to tell more than 200 Republicans – most of them women – at a free breakfast recruitment and mobilization session, “Women voters are going to make the difference this year. We know it. Now more than ever we need to revive our party and help women understand why our policies can help improve their lives.”
Fiorina told the group, “A lot of women are afraid of standing up and saying that we’re Republicans, we’re conservative. We cannot be afraid to stand up.”
She told reporters afterward that male Republican candidates, “honestly, shy away because they fall into the trap that Democrats want us to fall into, that it’s all about abortion and contraception. It actually isn’t about abortion and contraception. It’s about every issue that women care about.
“We have to combat the ‘war on women’ directly, aggressively and with the facts, and that’s what we intend to do here,” through what she portrayed as a full-fledged mobilization effort.
Fiorina’s UP Project will be trying to organize GOP and independent women in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado, as well as New Hampshire. She said those states fit the profile of being “purple states, important to both (the 2014 and 2016) cycles, and women are going to make a difference.”
She said the PAC’s efforts will be grassroots-oriented.
“We are not going to wage an air campaign,” she said. “There are plenty of people who are putting money into television. That is not our game. We are going to use technology, effectively focusing it on getting people on the ground to connect in a personal way to other voters.”
Fiorina declined to say how much money the super PAC plans to invest organizing women in New Hampshire, but noted that she has hired a state director – Lauren Carney of Hancock – and is hoping to hire about a dozen field representatives. Packets left on the breakfast tables of those in attendance at the Grappone Conference Center contained a “help wanted” ad for the jobs.
Fiorina told the Republicans that women “are not a monolithic building block, as liberals would like to cast us. We do not, as Democrats do, say that everyone has to adhere to a certain orthodoxy.
“That’s what Jeanne Shaheen and Hillary Clinton and the media would like to portray us as,” Fiorina said.
“We are going to be training women to become messengers and give them the tools they need to discuss issues with other women they know. And help them understand why our principles, our policies, are the right solutions for America.”
State Republican Chairman Jennifer Horn agreed that the GOP has much catching up to do to win the women’s vote. “There is no question that there is work to be done,” she said.
A poll by NBC News and Marist last week showed Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown trails Shaheen by 25 percentage points among women in New Hampshire. In 2012, President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney by 16 percentage points in the state.
But Horn said, “Democrats have taken women for granted and they assume that we only care about one issue. We are more than our reproductive organs.
“Democrats have overplayed their hand on the reproductive issue and they’re going to see the consequences of that. They are going to learn that women care about a lot more issues than the one they want to talk about.”
On Wednesday, Democratic state Sen. Bette Lasky of Nashua and the state Democratic Party pre-empted Fiorina’s visit by attacking her as a “failed CEO” and a “failed leader” who, as Hewlett Packard’s CEO from 1999 to 2005, cut more than 200 jobs in New Hampshire and shipped more overseas.
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But Fiorina said that under her leadership, “we doubled the size of the company from $44 billion to $88 billion. We took it from 2 percent growth to 9 percent growth. We generated 11 patents a day and became market leaders in every category.
“We saved a lot of jobs in New Hampshire because of how we integrated what had been the Compaq acquisition (in 2002). I will run on that record all day long and stand on that record all day long.”
Did her choice of words imply that she will be running again for office?
“I’m sure someday I’ll run again,” she said, “but right now I’m focused on getting other people elected.”