Fiorina, Whitman Back McCain

March 14, 2008 10:53:59 PM PDT
One political observer we talked to tonight described this campaign season as "the year of the woman" -- and not just because of Clinton's candidacy.

Republican john McCain has tapped two prominent Bay Area women for leadership roles in his campaign.

It's a move that could signal a new direction for the GOP.

The woman by john McCain's side has always been his wife - Cindy. Now, the Republican senator has the backing of 'two' powerful Silicon Valley women.

Today, McCain named retiring e-bay CEO, Meg Whitman, his campaign co-chair.

And just last week, former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, a long time McCain supporter, agreed to lead the fundraising efforts for the party.

"They'll be very handy surrogates," said GOP strategist Bill Whalen.

Former GOP strategist and Hoover Institution fellow, Bill Whalen, calls this a smart move for McCain, who is trying to change the ultra conservative reputation of the party.

"It's a reputation of being a party of older white men, and john McCain, our party's nominee turned 72 this summer, so the republicans have to find younger people who break the republican stereotype. Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, they break that stereotype," said Whalen.

Both women should also help McCain shape his economic revitalization platform. Right now, he's simply following President Bush's lead with no new tax cuts and promoting free trade.

"This is a great way to do it, kind of kill two birds with one stone, to have two women supporting your campaign and strong business women who have a lot of creditability who come from silicon valley," said SJSU assistant political science professor Melinda Jackson.

San Jose State assistant professor of political science, Melinda Jackson says aligning with two Silicon Valley heavy hitters will also tap into a previously 'unreachable' voting pool -- middle aged women.

"I do think it's a strategic decision for the Republicans to say, hey, we have women in our party too. The democrats don't have a monopoly on women because Hillary Clinton is getting so much attention," said Jackson.

On Monday, the attention was on Meg Whitman, as she accepted an award at a city council meeting.

Afterwards, she had this to say about whether politics was in her future.

"Just like in a business job, you never say never because what I've learned in 51 years, you never know what will come around," said eBay CEO Meg Whitman on Monday.

Come 2010, some party leaders think it could be a run for governor.