OPINION

Opinion: Carly Fiorina is no friend to the Latino community

CLEAR LAKE, IA - AUGUST 14:  Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina greets patrons at the Starboard Market before eating lunch at the restaurant August 14, 2015 in Clear Lake, Iowa. Fiorina was scheduled to continue campaigning in Iowa later in the afternoon.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CLEAR LAKE, IA - AUGUST 14: Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina greets patrons at the Starboard Market before eating lunch at the restaurant August 14, 2015 in Clear Lake, Iowa. Fiorina was scheduled to continue campaigning in Iowa later in the afternoon. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

Carly Fiorina is on the rise. The lone female amid the crop of hopefuls seeking the GOP presidential nomination has shot up in the polls following her performance in the first Republican debate. Once relegated to the “kid’s table,” next week she will be on the main stage with the top-tier candidates. She is seen as a fresh face with the business acumen necessary to shake up the Washington establishment.   

Fiorina is a failed CEO, a failed Senate candidate, and unlikely to appeal to Latino voters. Though she may talk a good game, she is not presidential material.

- Raúl A. Reyes

Don’t believe the hype. In reality, Fiorina’s time at Hewlett-Packard (HP) is widely considered a failure. She has been no friend to the Latino community. Although her campaign slogan is “Carly for America,” a more accurate description of her political philosophy would be “I, Carly.”  

Earlier this year Fiorina said, “I come from a world outside politics, where track records and accomplishments count.” That sounds good. But a closer look at her tenure as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard reveals a business record the New York Times rightly calls “not so sterling.” 

During her tenure as CEO, Fiorina fired 30,000 people and off-shored U.S. jobs. Under her leadership, the company found ways around international sanctions so that HP could continue trading with Iran. Arianna Packard, the granddaughter of HP founder David Packard, said Fiorina’s leadership “almost destroy(ed)” the company. 

Fiorina herself was ultimately fired by Hewlett-Packard after the company’s stock dropped by half in 2005 following a disastrous merger with Compaq (one industry leader called it “the dumbest deal of the decade”). Yet she walked away with $21 million in cash, plus $19 million in pension and stock benefits. So the only person who seems to have truly gained from Fiorina’s business “expertise” is… Fiorina. 

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In playing up her corporate background as qualifying her for the presidency, Fiorina overlooks a critical distinction between the private and public sector. A CEO is only accountable to shareholders. A CEO can fire low-achievers, or get rid of people they don’t like, in pursuit of profits. By contrast, our president is accountable to all Americans. The leader of our country must do his or her best for everyone, in pursuit of myriad goals. For the president, there is no tool like “layoffs” to solve problems like homelessness, energy policy, or an intransigent Congress.   

What’s more, Fiorina is generally on the wrong side of issues that are important to Latinos. She is against a path to citizenship for the undocumented, although she has stated that she would support legal status for some people after the border is secured (which is usually Republican code for “never”). She wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has provided millions of Latinos with health insurance. She is against raising the federal minimum wage, which could raise wages for Hispanics by as much as $8.5 billion. She came out in support of Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial “papers, please” law, as an unsuccessful candidate for senator from California in 2010.  No wonder she only received 29 percent of the Latino vote in that race; California's Latino voters saw through her and soundly rejected her

It is ironic that Fiorina is back on the campaign trail, considering that for much of her adult life, she didn’t bother to vote at all. In fact, when she ran for senator, her failure to vote became a campaign issue. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that she voted in only 5 of 18 national, state, and local elections while she lived in California, and that she previously lived in New Jersey (for ten years) and in Maryland without voting once. Voting is one of the basic tests of civic responsibility — and Fiorina failed it.  

To her credit, Fiorina did support the DREAM Act. But she opposes a paid maternity leave mandate by the government, and has dismissed equal pay legislation as “tokens.”  She also supported California’s infamous Prop 8, which stripped away the rights of same-sex couples before being struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. And the statistics that she frequently cites as proof that she helped grow HP’s business came from acquisitions, not from increased profits. Other than her ability to aggressively go after Hillary Clinton without being labeled misogynistic, there is little to recommend Fiorina’s candidacy. 

Fiorina is a failed CEO, a failed Senate candidate, and unlikely to appeal to Latino voters. Though she may talk a good game, she is not presidential material.

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and columnist in New York City.

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