Fiorina’s fate uncertain, but many hope she will remain in politics

Carly Fiorina speaks at a rally on Jan. 31. Photo by Jonah McKeown/TMN.

With presidential candidates appearing in coffee shops, grocery stores and even on citizens’ doorsteps, it should come as no surprise that many Iowa voters are unsure about who they will caucus for on Monday.

The audience at a Carly Fiorina campaign event Sunday morning in Waukee, Iowa, included many voters who are on the fence about whether or not to caucus for the former Hewlett-Packard CEO. Some say they hope Fiorina will remain in the political realm if she fails to earn the Republican presidential nomination.

Fiorina spoke to a packed audience in a Hy-Vee restaurant, asserting her view that American is an exceptional nation and defending her work experience in the business world. The event was organized by CARLY for America, a super PAC.

Patricia Hemphill, an Iowa voter who attended the event, says she is not planning to caucus for Fiorina. She says Fiorina does not line up with her views on several issues, including abortion, which she says she classifies as pro-choice.

Still, Hemphill says she thinks Fiorina is articulate and has value.

“I’m pretty decided, but I wanted to check out the candidates,” Hemphill says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to do a bit of candidate shopping … regardless of who you end up going for, there’s merit in hearing them all.”

Iowa citizens, volunteers and curious citizens gather to hear Carly Fiorina speak.
Iowa citizens, volunteers and curious citizens gather to hear Carly Fiorina speak.

William Raulston, a college-aged attendee, wore a Ben Carson t-shirt to Fiorina’s rally. He says he came to Iowa from New Orleans to volunteer for the Carson campaign but is undecided about who he ultimately will vote for.

Raulston says if Fiorina is not on the Republican ticket for president, he thinks she should be considered for vice president.

“Compared to the others, she actually seems very good,” Raulston says. “She seems like a powerful woman. A strong woman who’s honest would benefit everyone.”

Iowa voters Susan and Bob Seeley say they also would be interested in seeing Fiorina in a position other than president, and that if Fiorina does not get the nomination, she would be a good addition to the president’s Cabinet. Bob suggests Fiorina could become secretary of state.

Similar to Raulston, the Seeleys say they like Fiorina but are not sure who they will caucus for. The Republican couple says they have also attended rallies for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Bob says many other Republicans he has talked to are also undecided and will likely make a final decision about who to vote for at the caucus.

“We have several really decent candidates,” Bob says. “We’ve had so many candidates stay in the race, and a number of them would be pretty good. Carly stands out because she has a matter-of-fact perspective on how she’s going to get stuff done. That’s what we need.”

Unlike Raulston and the Seeleys, Jay Buffum, a student from Southwestern College in Kansas, says he has firmly decided to vote for Fiorina. Buffum says he came to Iowa to help with voter turnout efforts for a few days. He says he has also been working with CARLY for America in Kansas.

However, like the Seelys and Raulston, Buffum says Fiorina would make a powerful vice president or Cabinet member. He says Fiorina would be an especially good running mate if Hillary Clinton receives the Democratic presidential nomination, because there will be a woman on each ticket.

Another undecided Iowa voter is Susan Greenlee, who says she is thinking about caucusing for Fiorina, but hasn’t fully made up her mind. Regardless, she says she was very impressed with Fiorina at today’s event. She says she was a mainly a supporter of Ben Carson until Fiorina began gaining attention.

“I think the two of them together would be dynamite,” Greenlee says. “I think they could really make some [changes].”

The latest poll by the Des Moines Register puts Fiorina at about 2 percent support among likely Republican caucus-goers, making a caucus victory unlikely. Regardless, Greenlee says she would like to see Fiorina work in government in some capacity, echoing the common theme among the event’s attendees.

“She needs to be in politics,” Greenlee says. “Even if she doesn’t get the presidency, she ought to be vice president. She ought to have something to do.”

Greenlee’s sister, Iowa resident Karen Hovee also attended the event. Although Hovee is a registered Democrat, she says she does not like any of the Democratic candidates running this year.

“When I go to the caucus, I’m going to switch parties,” Hovee says.