Republican Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina has been promoted to the big stage for this evening’s GOP debate and experts say she must present a clear message why she should be president, especially one that will resonate with women voters, in order for her campaign to continue to grain traction.
The top-tier candidates will debate at 8 p.m., EDT, at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
Donna Lent, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Women's Political Caucus, told the American Media Institute in a written statement women’s issues will play a huge role in the upcoming primaries and election, especially in a field of candidates and party that is primarily populated by white men.
“With Hillary Clinton being their [GOP] likely Democratic challenger, any Republican candidate is going to have to come up with a strategy to run against a prominent woman. Carly Fiorina may have an advantage in this, because she cannot simply be asked what is going to be like running against a woman, as Trump was asked in the last debate. There is a huge difference between being a woman and being strong on women's issues.”
Lent said her organization believes in order for Fiorina appear strong on women's issues, she should come out in favor of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
“Looking towards the general election, this would be a powerful statement in favor of women’s equality while still steering clear of the traditional women’s issues, such as reproductive rights, that Republicans have faltered on in the past,” Lent said.
Scott McClurg, a political science professor and expert in presidential elections with Southern Illinois University in Carbondale said Fiorina must avoid saying anything that’s going to upset the GOP base and she must explain what makes her different from the other candidates, aside from being a woman.
And, he added, she has to be careful with Donald Trump.
“She has to compare herself to Trump since they’re both business candidates,” McClurg said. “That’s a tough sell for her because he’s a big figure and she isn’t. Therefore, what she’ll have to do is look more presidential. She has to cast Trump in a negative light. She’ll have to come after him on issues and avoid making mention his businesses going bankrupt, since she was fired by Hewlett-Packard.”
Leslie Lenkowsky is a public affairs professor with Indiana University, Bloomington, who was actually offered a position on Fiorina’s campaign staff, although he declined.
“Fiorina must prepare good responses to the questions that will speak to her lack of political experience and former head of Hewlett-Packard. She’s got to make a case for why voters should prefer her, what is it that she is for? Aside from being a woman with business experience, what is her position? What does she think of the major issues?”
He went on to explain that Fiorina, who is known for her marketing acumen, must use that to her fullest advantage.
“Carly is great marketer, now she’s going to have to come up with a great slogan and memorable statement and market to voters and the GOP base what she’s for.”
Fiorina’s campaign did not return emails from the American Media Institute seeking comment.