Politics & Policy

Railing Against ‘Crony Capitalism,’ Carly Fiorina Makes Her Case

(Pete Marovich)

Carly Fiorina made the case for her prospective presidential candidacy on Saturday, just days before she’s expected to officially jump into the race, telling a room full of conservative activists and writers that she has the policy background and the political skills to beat Hillary Clinton in a general election.

“Hillary Clinton may be a vulnerable candidate, in many ways, but we should not underestimate her,” Fiorina said at the National Review Institute Ideas Summit. “We have to have a nominee who can take punches, but we [also] have to have a nominee who will throw punches.”

RELATED: More coverage of the NRI Ideas Summit

Fiorina’s political ambitions have met with derision among political experts, given that the only people to serve as president without holding prior elected office were war heroes. Fiorina argued that her experience rising from the secretarial pool to CEO at Hewlett Packard makes her a true outsider who can direct the general disgust voters feel toward Washington, D.C. — and toward crony capitalism in particular — at Hillary Clinton.

“Back to 2012, we all thought Benghazi was going to be an issue and it wasn’t. It wasn’t an issue because our nominee wouldn’t throw the punch.”

Fiorina promised not to repeat that mistake. “We can’t let her run on the stuff that she wants to run on — and we all know what she wants to run on,” she said, in an apparent allusion to Clinton’s bid to be the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. “If I were the nominee, I will not falter, I will not falter, and I will land every punch and on the ground where she has to explain her transparency, her policies, her track record —​ ladies and gentlemen, on that ground we can win this fight.”

The former Hewlett Packard CEO also claimed to have the expertise needed to reform bureaucracies, an important point in light of her belief that “the government is one giant, unaccountable, corrupt bureaucracy.”

She went even further than that at times, showing signs that she might run as a sort of conservative Elizabeth Warren, flashing some of the anti-corporate sentiment that has made the Massachusetts senator a darling of the Left.

“Look, crony capitalism is alive and well. Elizabeth Warren, of course, is wrong about what to do about it,” Fiorina said. “She claims that the way to solve crony capitalism is more complexity, more regulations, more legislation, worse tax codes, and of course the more complicated government gets and it’s really complicated now, the less the small and the powerless can deal with it.”

Fiorina made that point while denouncing the net neutrality regulations recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission in a 3-2 vote.

#related#“The dirty little secret of that regulation, which is the same dirty little secret of Obamacare or Dodd-Frank or all of these other huge complicated pieces of regulation or legislation, is that they don’t get written on their own,” she said. “They get written in part by lobbyists for big companies who want to understand that the rules are going to work for them. . . . Who was in the middle of arguing for net neutrality? Verizon, Comcast, Google, I mean, all these companies were playing. They weren’t saying ‘we don’t need this;’ they were saying ‘we need it.’”

Fiorina suggested that large companies, by backing such regulations, have emerged as an enemy of the small businesses run out of people’s houses and garages. “Google started out that way too, in a dorm room, but they seem to have forgotten that,” she said.

They also comprise part of a “political class” that is “disconnected” from most Americans. “The vast majority of people . . . believe there is a political class that is totally disconnected from their lives and that’s stacking the deck against them,” Fiorina said.

It’s a diagnosis of American politics that is appropriate to her biography. “It’s interesting, people out there are not at all troubled that I haven’t held elected office; in fact, the people I run into consider it a great asset,” Fiorina said.

RELATED: More coverage of the NRI Ideas Summit

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.


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