The Future of America: Looking at the Presidential Race

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, speaking at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council

Carly Fiorina said she is considering running for president in 2016, and laid out how, in her view, America has given up its leadership role in the world. Speaking to a dinner meeting of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on Thursday, Fiorina said that a lot of people were encouraging her to run for the White House, because "I bring a different perspective, a different set of experiences and a different tone, and I think that will matter."

Clearly defining herself as a conservative who believes government should get out of the way to allow “people to live their own lives, dream their own dreams,” Fiorina used her own life story of climbing the corporate ladder to illustrate her message of the value of self-reliance and the possibilities of achievement in the US. “In 2015, this is the only nation in the world where a young woman can go from working as a secretary to a CEO of a top corporation.”

But she was very critical of the public infrastructure and burden of regulation in California, which she said showed all that was going wrong in the country. “California’s education achievement is at the bottom of the pile, California has higher rates of poverty and higher rates of inequality. For the first time in a long time more people are leaving this state than coming.” [Fiorina ran for the US Senate from California in 2010, losing to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer.]

Fiorina said that as she travels around the US she is most struck by a sense of disquiet, "a fear that we are losing the source of limitless possibility that has always defined this nation…for the first time since polling began a majority of parents think their childrens' future will be more constrained than their own."

She said that the US needs to once again become a vibrant, growing, leading economy – “economic leadership has always been the foundation of world power.” Even though our GDP is growing and unemployment is going down, she said that “poverty rates are rising, the number of people trapped in dependency is rising, and for the first time in history we are destroying more companies than we are creating."

Internationally she said the effects of retreating American leadership were making the world “a more tragic, dangerous place… Global leadership doesn't mean rushing off to war, but when America retreats from the world or is ambivalent about the world, our friends don't know whether they can count on us, and our enemies don't feel they have to fear us."

Referring to the killing of 12 people in Paris on Wednesday, Fiorina said "we need to have moral clarity and courage to call evil by its name - Islamic extremism is a danger to this world." She cited the killings in Paris, the slaughter of Christians and others by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and the kidnappings and killings by Boko Haram in Nigeria. And she made a strong defense of the state of Israel: “there is no moral equivalence between a nation which defends its citizens and terrorists who slaughter civilians.”

When asked about her position on the Affordable Care Act, she said the bill was far too complex – weighing in with some 70,000 pages of documents – and still did not fix the fundamental problem of a lack of competition amongst health insurers. She said the Act needed to be repealed and something new put in its place – “you can’t tweak 70,000 pages.”

When asked by an audience member from Connecticut about her position on gun control after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut and other mass killings, Fiorina denied that gun control regulations would have stopped the Sandy Hook massacre. She said she supports the Second Amendment, and said that the root problem with the Sandy Hook killer was mental illness. “He could not have stopped because he was a danger to himself.”

Fiorina was careful to say that she is not announcing for president, even though she is actively considering running. But she did say that although Barbara Boxer's Senate seat will be coming open in 2016, she would not get into that race again.