Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is dropping out of the 2016 presidential race. Fiorina announced the decision in a statement posted on Facebook Wednesday, a day after the New Hampshire primary, where she finished in seventh place with just 4.1 percent of the vote. In her statement, Fiorina, the only woman besides Hillary Clinton seeking the nation’s highest office this election cycle, talked about taking the country back from the “political class,” but also touched on some feminist themes. “To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you,” Fiorina wrote. “Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent.
“A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts,” Fiorina declared.
Early on in her campaign, Fiorina tried in various ways to introduce her own brand of feminism. She appeared on The View in June, a TV show with a largely female audience, but her message didn’t gain traction — and it showed in the polls. It wasn’t until she turned in a fiery performance during the undercard event at the first Republican debate in early August that she began competing in earnest among the GOP field. She still had to wage a public feud with CNN in order to get on the main stage at the second debate. Her poll numbers were improved, but still not breaking through. Nevertheless, CNN changed its debate criteria and allowed Fiorina to participate, where she once again shined.
Fiorina was no stranger to controversy throughout her campaign. She tangled with Donald Trump, a feud that was predicated by a sexist remark about her appearance made by the Republican frontrunner, and from which she emerged victorious. Fiorina was also the target of a similar attack by an unlikely source: some of co-hosts of the view mocked her appearance. CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin jumped to her defense after that episode. Most pivotal, though, was Fiorina’s insistence that she’d seen “a fully formed fetus” in undercover sting videos shot by an anti-abortion group aimed at discrediting Planned Parenthood. Despite no evidence that such an image appeared in the video, Fiorina never backed down from the claim that she’d seen the image of the fetus with her own eyes.
Over the last two months it became increasingly clear Fiorina was not going to be the Republican nominee. In December, a photo of a nearly empty Fiorina campaign rally went viral on social media. The writing was on the wall, and Fiorina seemed to know it, if some of the desperate moves she made down the stretch provided any clue. The week before the Iowa Caucus, Fiorina angered parents who accused her of ambushing their young children and using them as props during an anti-abortion speech she gave. After finishing seventh in the Iowa Caucus with less than 2 percent of the vote, Fiorina fought in vain to get herself on the debate stage last Saturday. But ABC News refused to modify its criteria for deciding which candidates appeared on the dais, and which candidates were shut out. It proved to be the nail in the coffin of her White House campaign.
Fiorina vowed to remain active in the political landscape as the race for president continues to unfold. “I will continue to serve in order to restore citizen government to this great nation so that together we may fulfill our potential,” she said in her statement.
Read Fiorina’s full statement on her Facebook page.