Well, that didn’t take long.
Within a few hours of Carly Fiorina’s announcement that she was ending her presidential bid, she started her transition back into the world of commerce, as a speakers bureau representing the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive sent out an email announcing that she is “now available for speaking engagements around the world.”
The email came from Worldwide Speakers Group, whose lengthy client list also includes CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Somali activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. We sought further details about Fiorina’s gig from the agency late Wednesday, but did not hear back.
As one of the most trusted conservative voices in American politics, Carly Fiorina stands at the very forefront of geopolitics and industry.
Fiorina ended her campaign shortly after 3 p.m. Eastern time; a contact of ours on the East Coast found Worldwide’s email in his inbox at about 6. Fiorina appears to be a Worldwide client of longer standing than simply her post-campaign career; as of early Thursday, her bio on Worldwide’s website still mentioned that she “is currently running for president of the United States in the 2016 election.” She’s also identified as a “leader extraordinaire” and “a thought leader known for results."
Most of the news squibs the website carries about her involve political issues that were live during her campaign. But the topics on which she is offered as a speaker tend more toward economic policy and business strategy: “Will America Keep Its Edge? The Global Race for Smart Ideas, Market Share, and Economic Power,” and “From Secretary to CEO: Lessons from a Lifetime of Effective Leadership."
(It will be remembered that Fiorina made much of her rise from secretary to chief executive during her campaign, though the impression she tried to give that she rose entirely by her bootstraps is incorrect; in fact her father was a law professor and federal judge, and she had a degree from Stanford. That’s not to say that her path to the top at Lucent and then to HP was necessarily easy.)
A fee for Fiorina appearances isn’t specified -- “Inquire for details,” the agency’s website advises -- but many of Worldwide’s clients are quoted at $7,500 to $60,000-plus per speech.
Fiorina’s pitch to clients appears designed to feature both her business and political backgrounds. She could do well occupying the niche of an articulate conservative with extensive experience in business. Beyond that, the lessons of Fiorina’s rapid return to the ranks of paid speakers are murky. (It’s not as though Hillary Clinton is unfamiliar with the rigors, or the returns, of the speechifying life.) But they do point to a reality of modern presidential campaigning: It can be a path to a lucrative post-political business career.
So many opportunities now exist for former candidates to market their political experience, even as losers, that there’s considerable incentive to stretch a campaign out long past the point where it should be discreetly shut down. Speaking tours, book contracts, paid sinecures as experts on 24-hour cable networks -- the possibilities are legion. Running for president, whatever the outcome, looks like a promising career move.
We observed when Fiorina launched her campaign that she was beginning her journey as a presidential candidate with little name recognition outside California, where she had led a major tech corporation (though with equivocal results) and run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. Now she’s a national figure.
“As one of the most trusted conservative voices in American politics, Carly Fiorina stands at the very forefront of geopolitics and industry,” Worldwide says. “Her message to Americans everywhere emphasizes leadership, service and patriotism.” Pay attention: She may be appearing shortly at a conference center near you.