Thursday night was the first GOP presidential debate, and it didn't disappoint anyone who was hoping for some on-stage fireworks — between Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz alone, it was a pretty rambunctious affair. But, not to be forgotten, there was another debate earlier that afternoon, for the seven Republican candidates who didn't make the top-ten cut. It gained the derisive nickname "the kid's table debate" in some places, but it may still prove to be pretty consequential. Here are 5 reasons we shouldn't have underestimated Carly Fiorina, because she turned in a performance that got everybody talking.
Fiorina may not have any political experience, nor any expereince at running for national office, but she's been through the campaign grind once before — she unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in California back in 2010, losing in the general election to incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.
Suffice to say, she's entering some unknown terrain, but not without a little relevant experience to fall back on. And she took full advantage on Thursday afternoon, standing out as more or less the lone bright spot in a GOP junior-league squad full of dead-enders. Here are five reasons we should've seen this coming.
1. She's Clearly Put In The Work
Fiorina is an independently wealthy private citizen, and she hasn't dealt with the all-encompassing life of campaigning, governing or lawmaking for the past five years. As such, while rivals like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham have been juggling their political prospects and public image concerns in the here and now with how they'll need to appeal to voters to make an impact in 2016, Fiorina's been able to focus her all her attention on a single goal.
2. She's Got No Political Track Record
We typically think of having no elected experience as a detriment, but it also works to Fiorina's advantage. Her extremely problematic, widely disparaged tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard notwithstanding, there's a lot less for critics to pin on her than allmost every other candidate in the race, including the ones who made the top-tier debate.
3. She's Far More Electable Than Her Rivals
Is there anyone who would seriously assert that Ted Cruz has a better shot than Fiorina? Ben Carson? Donald Trump? The conventional wisdom these days seems to be that Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are serious players, but neither of them particularly shone last night, and virtually all of the Republicans carry at least one glaring weakness.
4. She'd Defy The "Republicans Don't Want A Female President" Narrative
Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center released a poll finding that a dismal 20 percent of Republican women actively wanted to see a woman make it to the White House. It drew a lot of appropriately concerned coverage, because considering we've never had a female president, you'd think there'd be a little more desire for it, at least in an abstract sense.
5. Even If She Doesn't Make It, She's A Prime VP Option
Look, it's never comfortable to dig too deep into the cynical realities of politics. But there are few areas of a presidential campaign where cynical realities can make themselves felt quite like a VP pick — think Sarah Palin in 2008. Was Palin the best choice from a governance standpoint? No. Was she qualified to be president? Hell no, and basically everything she's done as a public figure since that ill-fated campaign has confirmed that.