- - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When people speak of “the first woman president” they usually mean Hillary Clinton, who is expected to announce her candidacy soon.

But there’s another woman, a Republican, who may shortly vie for the top job. She is Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. The polls don’t register much support for Mrs. Fiorina, but if people listen to what she has to say, particularly about Hillary Clinton, that could change.

In an interview, Mrs. Fiorina told me that, unlike a male candidate, she could better take on Hillary Clinton: “No matter what that man says, she will play the gender card or the war on women card. She won’t be able to do that with me.”

Mrs. Fiorina believes Mrs. Clinton has a poor record: “I come from a world where speeches are not accomplishments. Activity isn’t accomplishment. Title isn’t accomplishment. I come from a world where you have to actually do something; you have to produce results. [The presidency] is a very difficult job and we ascertain someone’s capability to do the job based not on their great speeches, but on what they’ve actually done.”

She thinks the media has overblown Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments and foreign policy experience and believes her accomplishments are more impressive. In 2012, after leaving Hewlett-Packard, Mrs. Fiorina served as the vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and is currently chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation, global ambassador for Opportunity International and board chairman of Good360. She says she has traveled the world and met many world leaders, including the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Vladimir Putin.

“Putin is our adversary,” she says, and “a formidable man. Iran is our adversary.” She wants to push back by “doing what our allies have asked us to do. The Ukrainians have asked for us to arm them. The Baltic states have asked us to defend them. Our own military people have said we need to reinforce the Sixth Fleet. We ought to rebuild our European missile defenses in Poland. President Obama unilaterally and inexplicably pulled those out.”

Mrs. Fiorina says her meetings with Mr. Putin have convinced her of his “lust for power. You can’t push a reset button with him,” a reference to Mrs. Clinton’s red button theatrics with the Russian foreign minister.

“Our allies have asked us to do very specific things that are wise,” she says. And these are? “Stop talking to Iran King Abdullah [of Jordan], who I have also known for a very long time, has asked us for bombs and material for support. We haven’t given it to him. The Kurds have asked us to arm them. We haven’t done it. The Egyptians have asked us to share intelligence. We haven’t. There are a whole set of things we could be doing that would send a clear signal we stand with our allies and that we’re going to oppose our adversaries. And we’re sending the opposite signals.”

On the uproar over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law, since amended, Mrs. Fiorina said, “I think it is a typical tactic of liberals to divide and conquer through identity politics.” She calls for “a balanced, tolerant discussion about core principles” that allows people with different beliefs to coexist, rather than government forcing one belief on those who do not share it.

Mrs. Fiorina doesn’t shy away from social issues, noting that some polls show younger people are more pro-life and that a large majority would restrict abortions after 20 weeks.

Mrs. Fiorina is openly Christian, telling me she drifted from faith in her 30s and 40s, but was challenged a few years ago by a pastor friend to rediscover Jesus. She said she did and now has “a very personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” She said her faith sustained her through the death of her stepdaughter and her own battle with breast cancer. Such openness and specificity about her faith is likely to endear her to the Republican base.

Mrs. Fiorina is impressive. Whether she can win the nomination, or perhaps the No. 2 spot (which she refuses to talk about) we’ll know soon enough. But watch her in the coming debates and see if you don’t notice a little Margaret Thatcher in her. Like Thatcher, Mrs. Fiorina is tough and smart.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist. His latest book is “What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America” (Zondervan, 2014).

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