Minnesota GOP committeewoman: Fiorina’s tech-industry experience a plus for nation’s chief executive

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaking during the TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York on Tuesday.

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is reaching out to key members of her party, among them Janet Beihoffer, national committeewoman of the Minnesota Republican Party.

Beihoffer joined in a teleconference town hall with Fiorina on Wednesday. Her assessment: “She can play with the guys. She can play in that league.”

Janet Beihoffer
Janet Beihoffer

As a party officer, Beihoffer has no allegiance to any Republican candidate at this time and extols the diversity and talent of the Republican field in general. But she allowed that she had a “positive impression” of Fiorina, who is the first woman to join the field of GOP presidential candidates.

“I think what she brings to the table is that she has worked in an industry that has created jobs,” Beihoffer said. “And she has worked to solve problems through technology.”

Beihoffer said the hand picked participants in the hour-long phone discussion did not quiz Fiorina about her time as the CEO of Hewlett Packard, a period of leadership that has often been described as rocky.

But Beihoffer, a veteran of IBM, said the tech industry offers a unique platform for problem solving that Fiorina would find useful as the nation’s chief executive.

“When you’re in the computer industry, you’re exposed to finance, manufacturing, retail sales,” she said.  “You’re exposed to a lot really top-level people – people who make their decisions work and people who don’t.”

Fiorina gave broad-stroke responses to questions, Beihoffer said, like her take on increasing jobs.

“[Fiorina] said her focus would be small businesses, that they are the key to economic recovery,” she said.“[But] she was comfortable with all the questions.  She obviously has done a lot of prep.”

That Fiorina is a woman, the straight on contrast to Hillary Clinton, will not matter as much to Republican voters as it does to Democrats, according to Beihoffer.  “Democrats have quotas,” she said.  “Republicans will just look for someone to undo the mess they perceive we are in.”

Still, Beihoffer says on Saturday, at a meeting of the Minnesota Federation of Republican Women, she’s going to take an informal poll of the women in attendance.

“Maybe a question like, ‘Do you think this is a plus or minus for Republicans and why,’ ” she said.

The results could be informative, she said. “This is going to be very interesting to watch.”

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Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 05/08/2015 - 10:46 am.

    “participants in the hour-long phone discussion did not quiz Fiorina about her time as the CEO of Hewlett Packard, a period of leadership that has often been described as rocky.”

    That’s rather kind, isn’t it? She was fired after a major debt-financed acquisition that wasn’t working, destroying 65% of the company’s market valuation but still walked away with a $21M golden parachute.

  2. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 05/08/2015 - 10:47 am.

    The mess we are in.

    ” ‘Democrats have quotas,’ she said. ‘Republicans will just look for someone to undo the mess they perceive we are in.’ ” This comment illustrates how today’s Rebublicans are either completely blind to reality, or are very willing to simply lie about it. Encouraging inclusion isn’t a quota, and it was a Rebublican President who led us into the mess we WERE in and a Democratic President who has lead us out of that mess. Certainly Ms. Beihoffer remembers that the economy collapsed under President Bush. Maybe she should look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average the day Pres. Bush entered office, the day he left office, and today (10,587, 7,949, 18,191.35). I would hope that she would remember that Pres. Clinton (without a single Rebublican vote in Congress) balanced the federal budget and began to run a surplus, putting our economy on one of the longest sustained economic expansions in our history. Pres. Bush immediately put the federal budget back into a deficit with the Bush tax cuts and his unfunded war in Iraq. Frankly, we can’t handle anymore Rebublicans handling of the mess.

    • Submitted by Charles Spolyar on 05/08/2015 - 12:32 pm.

      …mess they perceive we are in…

      I find it interesting that she didn’t say we were in a mess, just that Republicans “preceive” it to be. Deep down she knows we are doing better, but can’t seem to admit it.

  3. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/08/2015 - 11:18 am.

    Short answer to the above 2 comments

    Republicans have very short memories when judging anyone but Reagan (now over 25 years out of the picture). LOL

  4. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/08/2015 - 11:37 am.

    This Is

    A perfect candidate for the party of Fiscal Responsibility. You can’t make this stuff up.

  5. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/08/2015 - 11:47 am.

    If Carly Fiorina brings to the White House what she brought…

    …to HP, we’ll all be on our knees.

    She is the perfect example of a person who thinks that wealth qualifies her for our nation’s highest offices. She has less than little to offer as a candidate, regardless of her wealth, and LEAST OF ALL her business experience !!

    The people don’t ask her the right questions about her business experience out of simple human mercy – it would be like kicking someone when they’re down !!

  6. Submitted by Michael Hess on 05/08/2015 - 11:52 am.


    Her time at HP can’t be ignored and is a huge liability.

  7. Submitted by Ed Kohler on 05/08/2015 - 11:59 am.

    Fiorina creates jobs?

    It sounds like Beihoffer hasn’t seen this yet: http://carlyfiorina.org/

  8. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/08/2015 - 12:09 pm.

    Ruh roh

    How’d you like to be the party where Hillary Clinton is all you’ve got?

    New Hampshire poll: Clinton trails GOP challengers

    WASHINGTON (CNN) — Hillary Clinton is bleeding support in New Hampshire and now trails three of her top potential Republican challengers in a new survey.

    The WMUR Granite State poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire survey center, gives Clinton a huge lead over the Democratic field but shows her lagging former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul by anywhere from 6-4 points.

    She fares the worst against Bush, who draws 47% of likely New Hampshire voters to Clinton’s 41%. That’s down from a 12-point lead for Clinton in February.


    But I guess you still have a chance to elect a woman president if that’s your criteria.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/08/2015 - 12:32 pm.


      New Hampshire has a whopping 4–count ’em, 4!–electoral votes. In the last 10 presidential elections, it has gone Republican 5 times.

      It’s also over a year until the election, so there is plenty of time for a Republican nominee to do or say something stupid.

  9. Submitted by Wes Davey on 05/08/2015 - 12:11 pm.

    Tech industry a high priority?

    I find it hard to accept Biehoffer’s premise that creating jobs in the tech industry should or could be considered a high priority for our country at this time. Of all the candidiates of either party, Fiorina is arguably among the least qualified for that office, and has a snowballs chance of attaining it.

  10. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 05/08/2015 - 12:55 pm.

    I don’t get it

    Does it not matter if she is grossly incompetent? That the experience she is claiming was from a job from which she got fired?

  11. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 05/08/2015 - 01:21 pm.

    Fiorina’s “experience”

    The mere fact that Fiorina had, for a brief period, a job with a tech company, does not constitute ‘valuable experience.’ We should also look at how that job WENT, and then we see that she nearly destroyed the company and fired 30,000 American workers in an attempt to prop up her unrealistic goals. Apparently this counts as a plus for the GOP, but it certainly doesn’t for the working man.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 05/20/2015 - 11:04 am.


      “At age 25 [1980] she started in an entry-level position at AT&T Corporation. Within 10 years she was named the company’s first female officer, and at age 40 she became head of AT&T’s North American operations. (She also later married Frank Fiorina, an AT&T executive.) She engineered the successful spin-off of AT&T’s research division as Lucent Technologies, Inc., in 1996. Two years later she was promoted to president of Lucent’s Global Service Provider Business, in charge of sales to the world’s largest telecommunications companies.”

      …. “In 1999 Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) announced that Fiorina would become its new CEO—the first outsider to lead HP in its 60-year history. ,,,,, “In 2002 the two firms merged [HP & Compaq], retaining the Hewlett-Packard name. The deal, however, failed to generate the expected profits, and in 2005 Fiorina was forced to resign as CEO.”

      That’s 25 years of significant major tech industry experience, for whatever folks wish to think about it.

  12. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 05/10/2015 - 03:46 pm.

    Who’s playing the concertina

    for Fiorina?…. or is this comedy’s candidate; like an old script primed from Saturday Night Live?

    “People who make this country work and people who don’t”…

    Take your pick on that one.

    “Maybe a question like ‘Do you think this is a plus or minus for Republicans and why?”

    “The results could be informative.”

    You betcha, eh. Thanks for a fun read.

  13. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 05/10/2015 - 04:36 pm.


    As a techie, I haven’t been that impresses with HP for a fair number of years. Their servers are still fairly decent, but I don’t recommend their laptops and workstations to my users, friends, or family. Hardware-wise, all the manufacturers are pretty much equal as a CPU is a CPU.

    There are two areas that differentiates one manufacturer from another:
    1. Design

    HP is OK on the first item, although in my opinion I find Dell to be much better. Having replaced laptop screens recently on both Dell and HP systems, the latter took about ten minutes, which is pretty decent. The Dell system though took two minutes from start to finish.

    On the support side, it’s Dell all the way. When I dig into a problematic system, I need to find answers right away and not spend an undue amount of time digging through someone’s web site to find warranty information, parts list, and troubleshooting tips. HP’s site is a nightmare to get any of that data whereas Dell is a breeze. Which isn’t to say that Dell is perfect either. If you buy Dell consumer grade hardware, you’re going to get tech support from someone in India who speaks English as second language. That’s just the way it goes. But on the commercial side, when I need support I can get someone in the United States with whom I can have a passable conversation.

    What all this has on politics and presidential candidates I leave up to you. For me it’s simply an observation on how well one company is run vs another.

  14. Submitted by Jim Million on 05/20/2015 - 10:42 am.

    Fiorina’s Place in National Government, but Where?

    Let’s try to be serious about what many seem to believe is not a serious candidate. So, let’s look at some realities of Carly Fiorina:

    Fiorina is a successful female corporate executive (but not recently) with baggage related to her press negatives of style vs substance. These are fair topics of discussion; but, only if they are accurately reviewed and assessed with respect to national government service. For example, partisan operatives cannot ignore the very old questions of her rapid rise before HP, then alleged to have been facilitated by nepotism and suggested personal relationships. Opponents will sift all that trash once again.

    Most commenters will camp on her HP days, certainly controversial and editorially dissected at the time. She was just plain fired, but with a landmark golden parachute of the time. So, that story remains open because it was never fully concluded in a satisfactory public way. And, that corporate tactic has now become a common method of transition, making her termination less remarkable now.

    Fiorina then took much time in completely different directions, away from corporate machinations. She did “good deeds.” And then she made a move that should be a current issue until fully validated by her: She spent many millions of her own well-earned dollars to essentially buy a Senate seat from a powerful Democrat cornerstone–from powerful California! That exhibition of hubris by Fiorina left a legitimate shroud of doubt of good judgment around an otherwise smart, sensible and successful achiever. It appeared to be (was, no doubt) a fundamentally personal gambit removed from national politics and conventional Republican organization infrastructure. She seemed to be proclaiming herself not as a terrific Republican candidate, but as “Carly, the indefatigable New Republican of independent volition.” Well, that foray alienated the stuffy traditional National Republican machine operators, making her the Joan of Arc candidate from California. Predictably, she was trounced by Barbara Boxer, also a savvy and astute player of several personalities. Consequently, Fiorina came out looking less like Joan and more like Humpty Dumpty…and all her money and all the Republican men could not put Carly back together again. She quietly retired from the political field of battles…until this year.

    Given all this history, we must also view Carly Fiorina as a very intelligent, now battle-scarred but seasoned, broadly talented and experienced candidate for some important United States position. Given her attributes, she would make an excellent cabinet member. Now please do not laugh here: She might be an excellent Secretary of State….yes, indeed.

    She possesses the international corporate/political experience and talent of negotiation recently lacking in both Clinton and Kerry [come on, be honest about this, please]. As such, she would greatly bolster the presidency of any current Republican candidates. In fact, many could learn some rules of high level leadership from her. And, for those traditional Republicans who might still find her a threat of intelligence and technical approach to problem solving, she would be comfortably removed from daily Washington machinations of the “good old guys and gals” of Congress. In fact, Fiorina’s technical talents and executive history just might be the perfect skill set to keep us on top of the Pacific Rim trade issues/threats. She just might be pretty effective in dealing with Central and South American issues, as well. And, I also suspect the Russians would respect her more than many Americans now do. Those are the players we have in our game now and for decades to come. Traditional Europe is no longer on speed dial at State, if you may have noticed.

    Her campaign should not be “Carly for President,” but “Carly for Cabinet.” Perhaps it is. If a Republican man does win next year, given the current field, that President will need the savvy analytical thinking and worldly experience of one Secretary of State Fiorina.

    Well, I hope this is a fun game, given the inexperience level of most Rebublican candidates…rather like chess for beginners, yes? Enjoy!!

  15. Submitted by Jeffrey McIntyre on 06/18/2015 - 05:32 pm.


    So, what has she accomplished since she was fired by HP? And that was how long ago?

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