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.”
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.”