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Carly Fiorina: Using the story of HP to sell a candidacy

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Photo credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

The story of Hewlett-Packard in the last 10 years is like any slice of contentious history in which people are still tussling over what really happened and competing narratives emerge. Did Carly Fiorina have the vision and guts to acquire Compaq but then lack the managerial skills to make the merger work? Was Mark Hurd the brilliant manager that Wall Street hailed him to be, until his sudden departure last Friday?

The answers matter because Fiorina is running in the California Senate race in part on her record as HP's former chief executive. On Monday the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Fiorina, nodding to her credibility as someone who gets business.

"We're endorsing Carly because she understands the challenges businesses are facing and will stand up for the people of California during these tough economic times," said Bill Miller, the U.S. Chamber's senior vice president and national political director. "She is an invaluable leader who has a common sense approach to job creation and getting America back on the road to recovery."

According to a note from Fiorina's campaign called "Carly's Record of Success at Hewlett-Packard," her decision to acquire Compaq paved the way for HP to become the worlds' biggest PC maker. Boxer says Fiorina slashed jobs at HP. Fiorina says the jobs she cut were a result of the dot-com bust.

Fiorina isn't the only one this election cycle leveraging business experience to gain an entree into politics, even if that business experience is somewhat clouded by controversy. There's also Jeff Greene in Florida's Senate Democratic primary race. Greene, a real estate investor, bet against the housing market by buying credit default swaps and earned hundreds of millions of dollars when things turned south. His rival Kendrick Meek has gone after Greene for making money off the bust of the housing market. But Greene has brushed off those attacks, instead billing himself as a "proven jobs creator."

By Jia Lynn Yang  |  August 9, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Midterm elections  
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Next: Why business is so worried about $10B in the jobs bill

Comments

The bigger problem with Fiorina's time at HP is the perceived lack of respect she had to the organization's engineering culture. She ran the company as outsider would, looking purely at the short term bottom line, and not protecting the unique assets that drive the core growth of a company. That may be exactly what we need in government right now though, someone without fear of the sacred cows of the budget that we can no longer afford.

Posted by: staticvars | August 13, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

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