Carly Fiorina declares '16 presidential run

Carly Fiorina launched her bid for the Republican presidential nomination Monday with a series of sharp attacks on Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonIt's time for Sanders to exit stage left Navy SEAL congressman endorses Trump Green Party could be election spoiler MORE

The jabs renewed speculation that Fiorina, who lags badly in polls and is widely seen as a long shot for the GOP nomination, is auditioning for the role of vice president, a position that is synonymous with aggressiveness.

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Fiorina alleged that Clinton “is the personification of the political class” during a conference call with reporters that followed her official launch, which came via an online video Monday morning.

In that video, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO is seen sitting in a living room watching a television with Clinton’s campaign announcement video playing.

Fiorina then shuts off the TV, cutting Clinton off. She looks directly into the camera and says, “Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class.”

Seeking to position herself as a political outsider, Fiorina drew on her business experience as the former CEO of HP, a role in which she served from 1999 to 2005.

Fiorina has never held elected office. She lost heavily to incumbent Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerThe Trail 2016: Digging up dirt California senator defends Clinton for declining debate How Congress got to yes on toxic chemical reform MORE (D-Calif.) in 2010 and was sidelined by the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMellman: Parsing the polls GOP seeks to remove funding to design Gitmo alternative Big-name donors join Trump fundraising team MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2008 after she told an interviewer that the GOP nominee “couldn’t run a major corporation.” She was also fired by HP.

Those vulnerabilities leave most people deeply skeptical that the former CEO could claim the nomination this time around. But she has long been seen as a potential running mate for Republicans, who worry about their chances of countering Clinton’s potentially historic candidacy if they run an all-male ticket. 

Fiorina, in general, is drawing admiration from the GOP establishment.

“She can speak with authority as a former executive who understands the private sector and the economy,” said GOP strategist Ron Bonjean. “If she plays her cards right by taking on Hillary Clinton while showcasing her experience, she could position herself well to be a vice presidential pick.”

If she isn’t picked as veep, Fiorina could serve in a future Republican president’s Cabinet as Treasury or Commerce secretary, Bonjean suggested.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said there’s “an added benefit to including Fiorina on the 2016 Republican presidential ticket,” positing she could respond more effectively than most to Clinton and to political attacks from liberals that accuse the GOP of waging a “war on women.”

“Carly Fiorina can help coach the eventual GOP nominee on how to better employ the right tone and rhetoric when talking about women’s issues,” O’Connell said. “That will be key, given that Clinton’s core support is unmarried women under the age of 50.”

Despite being a long-shot candidate with little name recognition in a crowded Republican field, Fiorina is still vying for the top of the ticket. She is scheduled to return to the campaign trail in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the coming days.

She herself said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington last month that, if a Republican woman were to challenge Clinton, Democrats wouldn’t be able to “play the gender card.” 

When asked about potentially becoming a vice presidential pick, Fiorina dismissed the question during an interview with The Hill last month.

“When you start asking the male candidates — then I’ll answer,” she said.

Mark Calabria, a former senior GOP Senate Banking Committee aide who now heads up the Cato Institute’s financial services team, said “many on the GOP side will have some difficulty running against Washington when they are so closely associated with it.”

“She threads the needle on having both relevant and compelling business experience without coming from an industry that is widely suspect,” Calabria added. 

Still, pundits noted her rollout wasn’t without unusual moments. While most Republicans are jockeying to support police officers in the wake of serious unrest in Baltimore, Fiorina told reporters on Monday that she was “relieved” to see six officers charged over the death of Freddie Gray.

In a more striking gaffe, she did not register the domain for the website CarlyFiorina.org. A progressive union member instead registered the domain and set up a viral website attacking her business record at HP.

“From the sidelines, running for president looks a lot easier than it actually is, and Fiorina’s team just learned that the hard way on Day Number One,” O’Connell said.

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