Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who for months has positioned herself as the anti-Hillary Clinton, let her essential role in the election be known Monday morning when she officially declared her candidacy for president in 2016 with a video first featuring not herself, but the former secretary of state.
The opening five seconds of Fiorina’s announcement video show a clip from Clinton’s campaign announcement, in which the former secretary of state is heard saying “I’m getting ready to do something, too. I’m running for president.”
It may seem like an odd move – to divert attention away from newly minted Republican candidate – but, in fact, it’s been part of Fiorina’s narrative all along.
The campaign video pans out to show Fiorina watching Clinton, before Fiorina curtly lifts the remote and turns off the television, as the Democrat’s face fades to black.
Fiorina looks at the camera and launches her first attack as an official presidential candidate: “Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class,” she says. “We know the only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is leading it. I’m Carly Fiorina and I’m running for president.”
Fiorina, who became the first and likely only female to join the growing Republican 2016 field, continued to make slight digs at Clinton without ever saying her name. She urges an end to corruption, tiring sound bites and identity politics. Fiorina closes with a less-than original sound bite of her own: “We can do this, together.”
The kickoff mirrors Fiorina’s months-long effort to paint herself as the more suitable woman to be president. As a woman, Fiorina can go after Clinton in a way the GOP male candidates cannot.
“Hillary Clinton must not be president of the United States, but not because she is a woman. Hillary Clinton cannot be president of the United States because she is not trustworthy,” Fiorina said recently.
During the Iowa Freedom Summit in January, Fiorina took aim at the former secretary of state before Clinton even announced her candidacy.
“Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But unlike her, I have actually accomplished something. Mrs. Clinton, flying is an activity not an accomplishment.”
“I’m ready for Hillary,” Fiorina said to cheers. “Are you? Are you coming?”
Since then, Fiorina has accused Clinton of stealing lines from her speeches and book title, saying she “needs original ideas,” and has blasted Clinton’s credentials. “Name an accomplishment” she said at a Maryland event in February.
Those remarks were echoed shortly after Clinton launched her second campaign for the presidency on April 12. In a video response that same day, Fiorina said, “Hillary Clinton’s a highly intelligent woman, hardworking, she’s dedicated her life to public service but unfortunately she does not have a track record of accomplishment or transparency.”
Emily’s List, a group supporting pro-choice Democratic women candidates, blasted in an email a “quick reminder” shortly after Fiorina’s announcement that “not all women support pro-women policies.”
“The messenger might change, but the substance of the Republicans’ core message is always the same—and the GOP’s extreme, conservative agenda continues to spell bad news for women, families, and hardworking Americans,” VP of Communications Jess McIntosh said in the statement.
Fiorina has never held elected office; she lost a 2010 Senate race to California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer. As CEO of H.P., she was widely criticized for outsourcing jobs and was eventually fired. On the day of her rollout, carlyfiorina.org carried this message: “Carly Fiorina failed to register this domain. So I’m using it to tell you how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard. It was this many:” followed by an endless scroll of unhappy-face emojis.