Dear Carly, My mom has no idea who you are.
Carly Fiorina has a middle America problem she might not be aware of. And that problem is my mom, and all the voters like her who Fiorina seems to believe will be in her corner come election time next year. Yes, a few minutes on the national debate stage might help … but only if people like my mom are watching. And I can pretty much guarantee she didn’t spend five hours hanging out with CNN for the JV and Varsity events.
Carly needs my mom — a white senior citizen who doesn’t miss an election who lives in blue-but-getting-redder-every-year Pennsylvania (the home of 20 precious electoral votes). Now, my mother isn’t a Republican, but she is pretty open-minded when it comes to considering candidates she’s going to vote for. And, as someone of AARP age, she’s someone who has time to stay on top of the news and doesn’t shy away from talking about issues that are important to her. Mom is also someone supremely convinced it’s about high time to let a woman run this country because the menfolk haven’t been doing such a great job.
And until a few weeks ago, she had no idea who Carly Fiorina is. Not an inkling.
As we were chuckling about Donald Trump throwing his hat into the presidential race (though we’re laughing through our tears these days), she wondered why there wasn’t a Republican woman in the mix who might take on Hillary Clinton. I gently corrected her by mentioning Carly. To which my mother replied, “Who is she?”
When I explained to her that Fiorina had been the CEO of Hewlett Packard, she shrugged, saying she’d never heard of her and didn’t seem much impressed with that credential, at least in terms of qualifications to be the leader of the free world. So I’m wondering – unless a voter is knowledgeable about the tech industry, owned HP stock at one time or lives in California, where Fiorina ran her losing U.S. Senate campaign in 2010, is most of middle America like my mom when it comes to not knowing who this Fiorina gal is?
I joked with my mother that, aside from Fiorina’s Republican politics, I also had a little concern with a woman who wants to be the face of experience but appears to have erased that experience from her face, wondering whether that might be a requirement for us to finally elect a woman president. Yes, yes, I know that Nancy Pelosi and I’m sure others in the political world (men included) have had a little “face work” done from time to time and that fact doesn’t impact whether one is “ready” for the White House. But if, as some pundits suggest, America might finally be ready for a woman president because she has reached a certain age where there are no motherhood issues, and the Rush Limbaugh faux question of whether we want someone in the Oval Office during ‘that time of the month’ is off the table, the incredibly wrinkle free visage that Fiorina presents might not work in her favor.
Clearly, Carly has a messaging problem. Not even a debate with Whoopi Goldberg on The View will help — the voters she needs are too busy to watch daytime TV as they’re trying to hang on to the jobs they have or or find them to feed their families. Plus, I’m pretty sure that once my mom, and the other senior voters like her, who vote in large percentages, see that demon sheep video from last time she ran for office, and toss that into the mix of info on how many people she fired at a time when so many middle America voters are struggling to find jobs or praying they can keep the ones they have, Carly will be done.
Joanne Bamberger is an independent journalist, journalism entrepreneur and founder of The Broad Side. She is also the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox (SheWrites Press, November 2015), already an Amazon #1 Hot New Release! You can find Joanne on Twitter at @jlcbamberger and on Facebook.
Image via screen grab