CNN is reporting that Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and top McCain campaign official, is likely to drop from view for the next few weeks.
The likely cause of her disappearance follows her comments to journalists on two occasions that Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin could not run a major corporation; something Fiorina did for a number of, sometimes tumultuous, years. On her second comment she tried to temper the perceived slight by adding that neither Republican candidate John McCain nor Democratic nominee Barack Obama could run a major corporation either.
Fiorina originally told St. Louis radio host McGraw Milhaven on Monday that Palin couldn't run a corporation. She then compounded her move by expanding on it to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC this morning.
It was a bad slip and an even worse recovery. When a major figure in your campaign-who also happens to have been a very successful businesswoman who broke into one of the oldest boys clubs by being the first female head of a Fortune 20 company-says both the head and the number two members of the presidential ticket don't have what it takes to run a major company, that just hands two days of media to the Democrats. And who knows how many campaign ads.
Republicans have long used the imagery of government as a "business" in order to shore up their many business-beholden candidates. Remember President George W. Bush's "CEO President" line? Having a genuinely successful business executive (as opposed to a mediocre CEO like Bush, or the series of former government officials who leave the public sphere to land in well-packaged executive slots in friendly companies like McCain's former economic advisor Phil Gramm) cut down your candidates business acumen-not once, but twice-is a sharp blow.
Fiorina herself was once seen as being on the short list for McCain's VP slot. She has been very public as a McCain surrogate including debating Sen. Claire McCaskill-long a Obama supporter-on ABC's This Week this past Sunday.
Her less than convincing arguments on Sunday, combined with her recent slip, perhaps explains why Palin-who appears eminently scriptable-got the nod instead.
Of course, there is also the fact that she is an ambitious, strong, capable and successful woman who made her mark in a world dominated by men. But that wouldn't factor into their thinking at all...right? Palin was clearly the most capable Republican woman available to run.