September 16th, 2008
06:20 PM ET
10 years ago

Fiorina: McCain can't run a company either

Fiorina is a top aide to McCain.

Fiorina is a top aide to McCain.

(CNN) - Hours after top McCain aide Carly Fiorina said Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin isn't qualified to run a major corporation, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said she doesn't think John McCain is either.

In comments that are strikingly off message as the Arizona senator attempts to position himself as the candidate best positioned to fix the country's economic woes, Fiorina said in an interview on MSNBC Tuesday running a Fortune 500 corporation is not the same as running the country.

“Well, I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation, I don't think Barack Obama could run a major corporation, I don't think Joe Biden could run a major corporation," Fiorina, a top McCain advisor, said.

"But, on the other hand, a major corporation is not the same as being the president or the vice president of the United States," she continued. "It is a fallacy to suggest that the country is like a company. So, of course, to run a business, you have to have a lifetime of experience in business, but that's not what Sarah Palin, John McCain, Joe Biden, or Barack Obama are doing."

Fiorina was president of Hewlett-Packard until her high-profile ousting in 2006 after the company's uneven performance. Her comments Tuesday were immediately circulated by the Obama campaign as part of its continued effort to paint McCain as a candidate who lacks understanding of economic issues.

“If John McCain’s top economic advisor doesn’t think he can run a corporation, how on Earth can he run the largest economy in the world in the midst of a financial crisis?" said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. "Apparently even the people who run his campaign agree that the economy is an issue John McCain doesn’t understand as well as he should."

Fiorina made similar comments earlier Thursday to a St. Louis radio station when she was asked if Palin was qualified to run a company like Hewlett-Packard.

“No, I don’t,” Fiorina answered. “But that’s not what she’s running for. Running a corporation is a different set of things."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. RJ, NC

    McCain has already run a company. Remember, he invented the BlackBerry

    September 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Que Quedas

    Fiorina.....the US is the biggest corporation in the world........I am glad u let us all know that your candidates are not Mike the poster at the bottom of the page.....fiorina is Mc Cains surrogate not Obamas so dwelling on her downing Mc Cain is gonna be a bigger story than Obama since she has been downing Obama for calm down.....its ok.....boy the republicans have been sensitive lately

    September 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. Louis

    Dear Carly: Aren't you special?!!

    September 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. JPM

    McCain campaign has "foot in mouth" syndrome. Their ideas have been tried – Republicans were driving the car for the last eight years. Now that we've crashed, I think its time to turn the wheel over to someone else.

    September 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  5. JJ

    To Abby
    McCain is qualified How?
    Palin is definitely unqualified

    September 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |

    The headline is the way it is because she is McCain's advisor!! Saying that Obama is not qualified would be just partisan bickering. CNN headlines are pro-McCain/Palin the majority of the time regardless of the crux of the article.

    What I have to ask is how McCain can still even be in this race???

    His top economic advisor (Phil Gramm) basically created the foundation for the housing crisis, the oil speculation run-up, & the current financial melt-down.

    And now Fiorina – who herself was canned for mismanagement – says that neither McCain nor Palin could even run a company.

    P.S. what would McCain say about her golden parachute?

    September 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  7. agnes

    Why does this idiot have a media forum? She ran HP into the ground. She has no authority whatsover. On the other hand, keep getting the Republicans off-message, Carly.

    September 16, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  8. Allison- Mclean, Va

    McCain nearly went bankrupt early in the primaries, remember?

    Everyone counted him out because of how poorly he was managing his money, and thats how he got the slogan "mac is back" after NH.

    The man is rich yes, and therefor out of touch with real Americans, which is how he can make ignorant statements like "the fundamentals of our economy are strong", but the only reason he is rich is because he married into money, and so its not like he's even had to have a personal budget. He can't even count how many houses he has, how is he suppose to fix the economy?

    September 16, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    Obama and Biden could not run a company either, the lawyers who ran the corporation I worked for ruined it so bad we were bought out cheap and lost alot of our benefits to boot. Running a company, a country, or a campaign are as different as apples and oranges. CEO's are suppose to know about their company and be able to understand even the engineers which I know lawyers cannot because it goes right over their head like it does reporters.

    September 16, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  10. MaryMary

    Carly Fiorina wasn't ready to run HP either and they gave her the boot. She laid of hundreds if not thousands of HP employees and said that Americans are aren't guaranteed jobs. This is the kind of surrogate McCain wants in his camp?

    September 16, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |

    lol way to turn it around.

    September 16, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. Paula, Los Angeles CA

    Fiorina, it is blatantly obvious that you cannot run a company either! HP ousted you!

    We already put one idiot into office for 8 years, lets give a chance to the intelligent guy with common sense and good judgment. It is obvious Obama is an innovator and a leader... So much so that McSame and Co. are imitating his every move, his every line! Great job Obama you are a leader in more ways than one!

    FYI... Obama has run one of the most successful campaigns in history for the last 20 months.... Obama '08!

    September 16, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  13. mark

    Do any of you read the article before writing comments?

    So many of you keep saying she said this just about McCain. She didn't, she said this about all 4 candidates.

    I guess the truth has little to do with the some of your opinions. Oh yeah, it's repubs who lie, and distort the truth.


    Of course, I suspect my comments will be "awaiting moderation" forever, just like always. CNN is so biased, I dare them to actually show this one, throw me a bone folks 🙂

    September 16, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  14. Pachy

    Missing from BHO Resume:

    CEO – Chief Executive Officer
    COO – Chief Operating Officer
    CFO – Chief Financial Officer

    Present on BHO Resume:

    CO – Community Organizer

    September 16, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  15. Bill

    Give me a break.....who would hire Obama to run General Motors or any other large corporation? He would be clueless.

    September 16, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  16. Matt

    "Hi, I'm a Dem/Rep/Ind who is voting Rep/Dem because [insert talking points]. Boy am I sick of [insert candidate] and all their lack of qualifications. I've decided to vote for [insert candidate] instead because [insert latest spin]. Change. reform, the children the children, education, health care, oil, energy, blah blah blah..."

    Nobody's buying this total crap from any of you. Please stop. And CNN, please stop posting it. You're only dumbing down the debate even further.


    September 16, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  17. Jack

    Will you people shut up about Palin's experience! She lives close to Russia, so she has foriegn policy experience? Her and her husbans have a small fishing business, so the know how to run a business?

    I lived in Spain and sold a set of golf clubs, does that qualify me to be President? No, you know what qualifies me? Eight years of military service I never crashed one plane nor got caught by the enemy! I also know how to email and I understand the ecomomy, it sucks.

    September 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  18. Erin Smith

    "What the Obama campaign must have missed is the fact that she said NONE of the four running for Pres/VP in the two major parties is qualified to run a Fortune 500 company. Obama's bobbleheads are so quick to point out McCain's shortcomings, but fail to see that Obama's are even MORE obvious, even to the ill-informed, than McCain's."

    Either that, or this woman is full of hot air like the rest of the McCain campaign and her words are totally not credible. And I don't need her comments to know that McCain and Palin are NOT qualified to run a Fortune 500 company, let alone this country. How could their failed, tired policies possibly fix the problems that those policies have brought on in this country?!

    A vote for Republicans is a vote for the past. Let's move forward.

    September 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |

    YOU were fired from HP, you took $21 million in cash as a "golden parachute.

    Looks like you cannot run a corporation either, so what point are you making, other than just non-chorent babblings?

    Oops, hope that wasn‘t “sexist“.

    September 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  20. Will

    CNN would post it if someone from Obama's group of advisers would have said it about him. But this is Carly "Crash and Burn HP" Fiorina saying that John McCain (who she is working for) can't run a business. It has more meaning when you say that about your own "boss" than someone elses "boss".

    September 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  21. BPIZZY

    I am liberal and I agree with her on both sides... For the most part the economy is autonomous... While the president can have a bigger positive impact by doing less than more as is evident in Clinton's decision to pay off the deficit instead of dumping the trillions of dollars in capital gains back into the economy, the president gets too much credit when the economy is going well and too much blame when it is bad. The economy is mainly driven by the FED, global markets and the decisions of the fortune 500 companies. None of the candidates could be the CEO of a major company and no CEO could run this county. CEO's focus on profit maximization, something the government cannot afford to do.

    Still, whoever gets elected in Nov is sure to be a one-term president; the economy is not going to recover enough in four years and they will surely take the blame.

    September 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  22. g

    as a former HP employee, it cracks me up to see this. Carly ran HP right. RIGHT into the ground. killed it.

    failure in the business world = mccain advisor?

    also, MIchigan does NOT love McCain/Palin.

    OBAMA 08

    September 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  23. davinder

    Didn't she almost drive HP into the ground, layout 120,000 people and get fired?

    Fiorina can run a company... into the ground, that is.

    Typical that she is one of the sharks leading McCain's economic policies. Maybe thats why he thinks Americans are whiners like his other advisor, phil gramm, has said.

    The fundamentals of the economy are strong... if you make a crap load of money.

    September 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  24. Missouri

    I have a question for all of the candidates...I haven't heard a solid answer from any of them on this..

    How can anybody fix this?

    The company I work for is publically owned. We have been told by the "powers that be" that the management team will do what ever it takes to produce the best returns to their share holders. Long story short they are in process of moving another almost 1,000 jobs to Mexico. They can't hold down the material costs, so they are holding down the employee and building overhead costs. Mexico is close enough that the transportation costs aren't anything like the oversea transport costs and increased lead time costs. Most all of these folks will be forced to move from their "small towns" to find full time employment with some benefits in larger towns.

    September 16, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. Jim

    None of the liberal TV stations (including CNN) have mentioned the fact that Senator Obama is the second from the top of the list of those who received campaign contributions from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac lobbyists. Do we trust him to recast our regulatory oversight process?

    September 16, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
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