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Jon Fleischman

Advice to Fiorina and Whitman – Speak Out!

The Wall Street Journal has a brief piece on former Hewlett Packard honcho Carly Fiorina and the substantial role she has taken on in helping John McCain become the next President of the United States.  There is also a piece on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Politics Blog about former E-Bay Chief Meg Whitman, who is also helping out McCain, and how she is looking at running for Governor of California.  In fact, both Fiorina and Whitman have been talked about as potential GOP candidates in the future for office here in the Golden State.

Let me offer some advice to both of these ersatz California politicians – get out there and start to talk about what you believe, and why.  Especially in the case of Whitman (pictured to the left, Fiorina is pictured below) who was famously a decline-to-state voter until she re-registered Republican so she could vote for Mitt Romney in the California primary — there is great interest on where these two are coming from, philosophically and ideologically.  Why are they Republican?  What do they think of the job that Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing?  Do they agree with legislative Republicans that California has an overspending problem and taxes should not be raised to deal with this year’s budget problems?  A myriad of issues are playing out in California politics right now — and it would be extremely helpful for us to know what they think about these issues, and where they stand on them — now, as they are taking place…

There is a catch-22 here.  Word is that both Fiorina and Whitman have been “talking” to political advisors – great.  But the longer they take  where they are formulating potential political plans in the shadows, the harder it will be to convince GOP activists like myself about the sincerity of their convictions.

Write some opinion editorials (we would publish them here, though I am sure you could get them published anywhere) – take some bold positions on the issues of the day.  Help us to try and understand where you are coming from and what you would do to deal with the issues of the day.

It’s important to remember that the goal is not to elect Republicans to office, but to elect Republicans with strong ideas of what they would do differently than their ultimate Democrat opponents.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has been talked about as a potential Republican candidate for Governor in 2010.  Poizner may be well situated to take advantage of the desire for “authenticity” that is out there amongst the electorate right now.  I will tell you now that I don’t agree with Poizner on every issue, which would shock no one.  But I admire that he is willing to discuss any issue, and give you his take on what he believes.  Fiorina and Whitman would do well to follow that lead. 

We’re looking for candidates who can talk from the heart, and say what they really believe.  It is possible for these two wildly successful businesswomen to spent so much time on “strategic planning” and “pursuing advice from knowledgeable insiders” (who are always happy to advise those with massive net-worth) that they lose sight of the importance of just being themselves, and most importantly, making themselves broadly available, early, to the GOP opinion leaders, statewide and locally, who are quite curious about them.

Waiting until after the 2008 Presidential Election is behind us to get out there and start a dialogue on your own interests may be popular advice from your “consultants” (who tend to want to jealously guard their relationships with you and build those up in a vacuum, and who also prefer to stagger their work, pushing off tomorrow’s work to deal with today’s clients first), but it is not good advice.  Speaking for myself, when this year’s elections are over, I’ll be ready to dive straight into 2010.  The time for first-introductions and understanding the basics on potential candidates will be behind me.

Well, I would be happy to sit down with either of them, and share my interview with our readers.  We’ll see if the phone rings!

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