GOP Presidential Hopeful Carly Fiorina Gets a Taste of the Beehive State

Fiorina headlines GOP event in Salt Lake City after being tasked to lead an early morning hike with Romney E2 Summit VIPs.

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(from left to right: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Carly Fiorina, Salt Lake County Chairwoman Suzanne Mulet at Salt Lake County GOP event during VIP reception. Photo credit: Lee Rech

It’s not every day Utah gets a female presidential candidate at their doorsteps like ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina. It’s not like Hillary Clinton is coming to the Beehive State anytime soon now that she’s officially launched her campaign. What would be the point? After all, Utah is still considered to many a fly-by state.

On June 13th the tides changed for the conservative women constituency of Utah—and for many GOP males too. Former HP CEO and the only Republican woman to declare her presidential candidacy, Carly Fiorina, made a proactive choice to not only attend the VIP-chalked Romney E2 Summit in Park City but to also headline the Salt Lake County Republican Party’s annual summer fundraiser. With more than 100 in attendance and the historic Eagle Gate courtyard in downtown Salt Lake City just a stone’s throw from the Salt Lake Temple as the backdrop, the evening was a sellout that surpassed expectations.

Carly Fiorina and PolitiChick Lee
Carly Fiorina and Lee Rech. Photo credit: Carly Fiorina’s staff

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It was a fantastic night comprised of high-profile attendees and youth alike including: Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and his family, Attorney General Sean Reyes and his teenage daughter, Salt Lake County Republican Chair Suzanne Mulet, Jonathan Johnson III (chairman of Overstock.com), Thomas Wright (former chairman of the Utah Republican Party), Aimee Winder Newton (Salt Lake County councilwoman), Utah Rep. Sophia DeCaro, and Utah Rep. Fred Cox, among many others from the business community, local, and state government. For some lucky enough to attend the VIP reception (like ME!), pictures and selfies with Carly Fiorina were in high demand.

But it was the dinner under the stars where Fiorina’s discourse, unfettered by her early morning hike in Park City, took center stage and garnered newfound respect for a candidate that for many until now is still somewhat of an unknown.

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Carly speaking at the Salt Lake County Republican Party event in downtown Salt Lake City at Eagle Gate. Photo credit: SL County GOP staff

At the highest level, Fiorina’s overarching campaign messaging appears to just make sense. Among her most meaningful comments: “It is time to declare the end of identity politics. It is time to declare the end of lowered expectations. It is time for citizens to stand up to the political class.” However, the underlying points Fiorina touched on during dinner received the greatest agreement among attendees— especially from many of the women dining on the patio.

“Carly Fiorina’s story, message and demonstrated strength through adversity motivated me to ask her to come to Salt Lake,” explained Salt Lake County GOP Chair Suzanne Mulet. “She has been on my radar for years, ever since she was chosen to lead HP. Utah deserves to be led by the wonderful women we have here and Carly can help these women see what is possible.”

During the course of the talk, Fiorina touched on many topics including the current plight of women. In the last six years, she explained, 6 million women have been driven into poverty due to the Obama administration’s policies. Now how about that for a war on women?!

Fiorina also explained that despite todays’ ever-expanding government, people still have more ability to be successful here in the United States than anywhere else in the world. She went on to elaborate that seniority promotion practices among companies continues to hold back women, especially women who choose motherhood. To counter this problem, Fiorina believes a meritocratic culture—or system based on ability—would create bench-strength for women leaders and would close the gap created when women leave the workforce to have children.

And Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes agrees. Since taking office in 2014, AG Reyes has increased the number of women and minority employees in the Utah Attorney General office, more so than any other previous administration. “It was an honor to meet and talk with Carly Fiorina, if only for a short time. I think we both agree that meritocracy is a superior leadership approach that can positively impact all areas of life and diminish workplace divisiveness including the ‘equal work for equal pay’ issue.’ ”

Reyes added, “I have met with almost all of the Presidential candidates and Carly Fiorina is certainly an impressive one. Her business experience is a great strength.”

Fiorina also explained the importance of reclaiming our place as a global leader so that our friends know that we stand by them and our enemies dare not challenge us or our friends. As an empowered women, she pushed back on feminists choosing what and who we want to be as women and added that being a feminist shouldn’t solely equate to demanding equal work for equal pay (already in law) or being pro-abortion (also in place by law).

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Carly Fiorina leading hike in Park City during Romney E2 Summit. Photo credit: Romney E2 Summit Staff

Fiorina set herself apart by explaining to Utah attendees why she is different (beyond the obvious) in nearly every way from the other presidential hopefuls, laying the groundwork for why these differences matter and qualify her for the office of the President.

When asked if she thought Fiorina could cut back on today’s regulatory stranglehold on business and the U.S. economy, Mulet added, “Carly can speak (and understand) the impact of governmental regulations from a 30,000 foot view. Her diverse and extensive business, non-profit, and NGO background lends itself to be able to predict unintended consequences of a regulation—not from an advisory standpoint but from experience. Decision making from experience and from theory provide significantly different outcomes.”

When asked about Hillary Clinton’s official relaunch of her campaign on the same day as Fiorina’s E2 Summit hike and Salt Lake headliner, she responded to cheers and jeers, “What’s that all about?”

My prediction: Carly Fiorina is just getting started—keep an eye on this lady at the first debate in August.

Lee Bagdasarian Rech

A lifelong Republican who hails from Boston, Lee Bagdasarian Rech arrived in the Beehive State in 1991. Rech founded LBR Communications Inc., an independent marketing/public relations and professional writing agency in 1996. LBR has placed numerous editorial and local and national broadcast segments including: Forbes.com, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, Utah Business, Salt Lake Magazine, Phoenix Business Journal, OC Register, Bloomberg, Fox13, KUTV Channel 2, ABC4, KSL TV Channel 5, FNC, among others. When she’s not hunkered down in her office strategizing on political campaigns, working on PR projects, freelance writing, or blogging, Rech can be found spending time with her husband and two children, working out at the gym, gardening or riding her horse. She received her master’s degree in literature from King’s College, University of London, and a bachelor’s degree from Denison University.

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