Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and onetime U.S. Senate candidate, announced Monday she will seek the Republican nomination for president in the 2016 election.
Fiorina is the first female candidate to officially jump in on the Republican side. Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), and celebrated neurosurgeon Ben Carson have also announced their candidacies.
"Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class, they believed that citizens and leaders needed to step forward," she said in a video posted to her website. "We know the only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is leading it."
Fiorina served as HP's chief executive from 1999 to 2005, making history as the first woman to run a Fortune 50 company. She was a polarizing figure at the Palo Alto-based firm: While revenues doubled under Fiorina's leadership, her tenure was also marked by thousands of layoffs, internal clashes and missed earning targets. Fiorina was eventually ousted by HP's board after a controversial merger with Compaq that pitted her against the Hewlett family.
Despite her mixed legacy, Fiorina has made her time at HP the focus of her nascent campaign.
"HP requires executive decision-making and the presidency is all about executive decision-making," Fiorina told CNN earlier this year.
After leaving HP, she served on the boards of several companies, including Kellogg Co., and became a Fox News contributor. Later, she was an economic adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during his 2008 presidential campaign, and was floated as a potential running mate.
In 2010, Fiorina ran for Senate, seeking to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). In that race, Fiorina ran on her business record, seeking to portray Boxer as a wealthy Washington insider. However, the incumbent Democrat took on Fiorina's HP tenure, criticizing her for laying off thousands of employees and moving jobs overseas. Boxer went on to beat Fiorina by 10 points. Fiorina, who contributed $5 million to her own campaign, left the race with about $500,000 in debt.
Last year, Fiorina began laying the groundwork for a 2016 bid, visiting several early primary states and hiring campaign staff. In recent months, she's spent time courting voters in Iowa and lined up speaking engagements across the country.
While she has yet to fully articulate a campaign platform, Fiorina has thus far stuck to her pro-business message. She has criticized President Barack Obama's handling of the economy, saying he does not deserve credit for the recovery. In addition, Fiorina has frequently taken on Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, questioning the legitimacy of donations made to the Clinton family's charitable foundation as well as Clinton's accomplishments as secretary of state.
"Hillary Clinton must not be president of the United States -- but not because she’s a woman,” Fiorina said in Iowa last month. "Hillary Clinton cannot be president of the United States because she is not trustworthy. And while she has held many titles, she hasn't accomplished very much."
On gay rights, which is emerging as a key issue for 2016 hopefuls, Fiorina has taken a somewhat softer tone than many others in the GOP field. While she stops short of backing same-sex marriage, she says she supports civil unions as well as providing government benefits to gay couples. However, Fiorina has maintained a hard-line stance against abortion, and claimed last month that conservatives are "winning" the fight over reproductive rights.
Although she hasn't served in public office, Fiorina maintains that her business background will give her an edge -- along with the fact that she is likely to be the only woman in a crowded GOP field.
“Realistically,” she told Bloomberg Politics, “everything about me is different than anybody else running. My experience is different, my resume is different, my perspective is different, my voice is different. Oh, by the way, my gender is different.”
HuffPost Pollster, which tracks all publicly available opinion polls, currently shows Fiorina trailing her likely GOP opponents: