Elizabeth Warren has risen to prominence in the Democratic party more or less on her ability to give a great speech. As the Washington Post put it back in October, she’s reminded Democrats “that ‘rally’ is a verb.”
Carly Fiorina has pulled off something similar in the Republican presidential field, making herself a force by delivering hard-hitting speeches aimed right at Hillary Clinton that are resonating with a lot of Republican primary voters. “She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own offices’ pay standards—and neither will our president,” Fiorina told the audience at CPAC. “Hillary likes hashtags. But she doesn’t know what leadership means.”
Like Warren, Fiorina doesn’t have much political experience but, like Warren, she can talk compellingly about her biography; she rose in a male-dominated field from secretary to CEO on her merits, not by marrying the right guy. And she can connect it to her broader political message about the dignity of work and the failure of crony capitalism.
Hillary Clinton, many Democrats observed, isn’t a great politician. One of the reasons is that she’s not a good speech giver. Both Warren and Fiorina show how far the skill can take somebody.