Carly Fiorina's College Football Pandering Is Cringe-Inducing, And It Won't Do Her Any Good

Out of all the Republican presidential candidates in this election cycle, you know who might be getting the rawest deal? Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and onetime California senate candidate Carly Fiorina. Despite being the only GOP undercard debater who actually vaulted herself onto the primetime stage, and having a career profile that syncs pretty well with the outsider vibe that's so in vogue, she simply can't catch on. And maybe that futility is what pushed her into this embarrassing place ― Carly Fiorina's college football pandering is cringe-inducing, and it's hard to believe that anyone, anywhere, could actually be swayed by it.

For those of you who aren't college football fans ― I like to simply call us "sensible people" ― here's a little vital background. On Jan. 1, Stanford University and University of Iowa will be facing off in the 102nd annual Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, California, the final, climactic game of their respective seasons. Iowa is currently a political hotbed since it's the first voting state of the presidential primary process. So if you're a candidate who's trying to reinvigorate a dying campaign (she currently sits in ninth place in Iowa), why not offer some well-wishes to one of the state's big college teams?

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Ah, but here's the problem: Carly Fiorina is a Stanford alumna! She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the prestigious private university back in 1976. On the other hand, she has absolutely no prior affiliation or association with the University of Iowa. In other words, it'd be pretty damn difficult for her to convincingly cheer on the Hawkeyes. But if there's a lesson in this story, it's that no pander is too weak to try ― on Friday morning, Fiorina tweeted out the following:

Suffice it to say, this is beyond poorly played. In the first place, Fiorina freely volunteers the information that she's turning her back on her alma mater, which she didn't have to do, and it makes the desperate absurdity of the tweet that much more glaring. In fairness, she (or whoever manages her social media accounts) probably felt that they had to mention it, because otherwise, people would jump all over the omission. But at the point you're thinking that way, why bother with the tweet at all?

It's also a woeful misjudgment of the current political mood. As Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times noted, if the rise of boorish businessman Donald Trump tells us anything, Fiorina should've just been straight with Iowans, and told them she wanted her Stanford Cardinal to crush the Hawkeyes. If she wanted to go full Trump, maybe toss in a few "losers" and "total disasters" in there for good measure.

Then, at the very least, she'd sound like a genuine, authentic football fan like any other, indulging the same decades-long rooting interests that anyone would. That would probably earn her a lot more respect ― including from diehard Hawkeyes fans ― than trying to boost her flagging presidential hopes with such obvious pandering. While different sports fans do have different rooting interests, it's the shared the loyalty of fandom that binds them all together. Thanks to this tweet, Fiorina can't even lay claim to that.

All in all, Friday was not the best day for the long-shot GOP candidate. If you're still curious to see whether Fiorina finishes out the day as a triumphant turncoat or as a sheepish loyalist, however, you won't have to wait very long ― the Rose Bowl kicks off on New Year's Day at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.