Following Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s commanding performances at the first two Republican debates, her poll numbers and name recognition have skyrocketed.
The reason for this is that Fiorina is, pardon my French, a badass.
She’s a high-ranking businesswoman who clearly knows how to hold her own in boys club contexts.
She’s well-versed in the policy positions she espouses—she’s no Sarah Palin who puts optics over substance.
She has neatly avoided pandering while still using her unique position as a woman in the GOP race to her advantage.
And she’s ably met the challenge—amplified by the presence of the perpetually boorish and misogynist Donald Trump—of confronting and condemning sexism in campaign politics.
When Trump infamously critiqued Fox News’ Megyn Kelly by suggesting she only posed hard questions at the first Republican debate because she was on her period, Fiorina not only claimed the moral high ground but turned the conversation on its head.
“When I started this campaign, I was asked on a national television show whether a woman’s hormones prevented her from serving in the Oval Office,” she said. “My response was, can we think of a single instance in which a man’s hormones might have clouded his judgment?”
Fiorina’s cool and concise response to Trump’s transparent attack on her looks was equally on-point.
So I can understand why Fiorina’s campaign is refreshing to Millennial women eager to see the White House’s glass ceiling broken—and who, prior to Fiorina’s rise, only had Palin and Hillary Clinton as options for that goal (there was Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, too, I suppose, but her brief campaign is on no one’s radar anymore).
But here’s the thing: When was the last time you heard someone say, “This male candidate’s policies are totally different from mine, but he’s just so well-spoken and composed that I like him anyway”? Jeb Bush, for instance, often comes off as a smart and likeable guy, but I don’t see anyone cutting him similar slack.
Because whatever one think’s of Fiorina’s demeanor and wit, many of her policies are awful. You could put the bulk of what she says in John McCain’s or Mitt Romney’s mouth and not notice any difference.