Carly Fiorina is campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination in New Hampshire this week.
On Wednesday Fiorina spent the morning touring the manufacturing company Cirtronics, a business that makes products such as circuit boards and airport screening devices.
The former CEO of Hewlett Packard walked around the facility sounding both like a candidate and a corporate veteran– greeting nearly every employee she with a blend of small talk and business. But what makes this company a handy campaign backdrop for Fiorina – is that its story mirrors her own.
“Here is something different, a woman who started as a secretary and rose to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company Hewlett Packard – that’s different," Geradine Ferlins, the President of Cirtronics said while introducing Fiorina to a room of more than one hundred of her workers.
Cirtronics, which opened back in 1979, was and still is headed by Ferlins, a woman who started out as a social worker to later be offered the chance to lead her own company from the bottom up. An opportunity, she said, which was given to her by her former boss after he sold his company.
A similar leap of faith, Fiorina said, was also taken on her. “I think that is actually the story of America, honestly. Where we know there are people with all kinds of potential and all kinds of God given gifts and what they need is someone to take a chance on them,” she told the crowd Wednesday.
And this very idea – is what Fiorina is basing her campaign on. “Unlocking potential” she calls it. “If someone merits supports and the opportunity. It is our job to give it to them if we possibly can,” said Bob McCray, who saw something in his employee Ferlins three decades ago – and acted.
Fiorina says most executives don’t do this, adding that those in power have become too comfortable with the status quo.
“I think we are at a pivotal point because too many peoples’ potential isn’t being realized, we are crushing possibilities for too many people.”
She points to the country’s federal assistance programs, which she says foster dependence.
“We tangle them up in these programs of dependence and instead of asking them to move forward with their lives, we discourage them from doing so.”
Ferlins said when she met Fiorina two years ago, she never thought she would be supporting her for the presidency, but like someone told her once, "dream big."
Fiorina has never held political office. Back in 2010 she ran for a California Senate seat, but lost by ten points.
Many, such as one worker at Cirtronics who attended Fiorina's talk, question whether her story is enough to run on. “It’s great about your past and words of wisdom, and motivational, but we didn’t hear much about what you would do as President of the United States,” she said during Fiorina's Q&A.
But Fiorina says her lack of political experience is a strength rather than a weakness.