Technology mogul Carly Fiorina muscled her way into the crowded field of Republicans positioning for a 2016 White House bid with a blistering attack Thursday on Hillary Rodham Clinton and an appeal to Republicans to consider nominating a woman.
It was a reboot for Fiorina, whose last foray into national politics did not go well.
The former Hewlett-Packard chief executive failed in her 2010 effort to defeat California’s Sen. Barbara Boxer, the Democratic incumbent. Despite GOP excitement around Fiorina at the outset, her race was beset with missteps and a muddled message. Boxer ultimately skated to reelection.
But the Conservative Political Action Conference crowd, meeting here just outside Washington, found lots to like in Fiorina’s remarks. She has spent the last few years engaged in conservative activism and burnishing her foreign policy credentials.
“Like Mrs. Clinton, I too have traveled” the globe, Fiorina said of the former secretary of State. “Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment.”
She lit into the Obama administration’s foreign policy, characterizing it as wishy-washy.
The crowd rose to its feet when she praised the government of Jordan for swiftly executing two convicted terrorists after Islamic State militants burned alive a captured Jordanian pilot in a cage.
Then she moved onto Russia. “I met Vladimir Putin and I know his ambition will not be deterred by a gimmicky reset button,” she said.
Fiorina pleased the crowd by declaring every foreign policy move by the Obama administration and its former secretary of State had weakened America’s standing around the world.
“Mrs. Clinton, please name an accomplishment,” she said.
Although the field of aspiring GOP presidential candidates is crowded, including 10 speaking here this week, Fiorina is the only prominent woman. She is unsubtly positioning herself as the anti-Hillary.
“I think our party needs to be as diverse as the nation we hope to represent,” she said.
Still, it became clear what she is up against moments after she left the stage. It was Sen. Ted Cruz’s turn. Dozens of fans rushed the stage, jockeying to capture a photo of the tea party favorite from Texas on their smartphones.
That did not happen when Fiorina took the podium. Nor when she left.