Carly Fiorina drops bid for GOP presidential nod

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Carly Fiorina dropped out of the 2016 Republican presidential race Wednesday, following a dismal finish in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday.

The former Hewlett Packard chief executive announced to her followers on that she is suspending her campaign. She had won praise for her debate prowess but struggled to build a winning coalition in a crowded GOP field.

“While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them,” Fiorina said in a statement posted on her Facebook page.

“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.

Fiorina, 61, entered the tumultuous Republican primary in April. She promoted herself as an outsider with business experience and argued that as the lone woman in the GOP field she was best positioned to oppose likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. After a standout performance in the first undercard debate, Fiorina rose to the mainstage and soared in the polls in the fall. But she struggled to build support in a crowded primary field and her poll numbers lagged.

Unofficial results in New Hampshire gave her just 4 percent of the vote Tuesday, according to WMUR-TV in Manchester.

Fiorina won applause from women on both sides of the aisle in the second Republican debate in September, when she was asked to respond to Donald Trump’s comments criticizing her face.

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Fiorina said calmly. Trump sought to smooth things over, saying “I think she’s got a beautiful face and I think she’s a beautiful woman.”

Fiorina’s first major foray into politics was in 2010, when she ran for Senate in California and lost to incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer by 10 percentage points.

Throughout her presidential bid, Fiorina emphasized her meteoric rise in the business world. A Stanford University graduate, she started her career as a secretary, earned a master of business administration degree and worked her way up at AT&T to become a senior executive at the telecommunications giant.

But she was also dogged by questions about her record at Hewlett Packard, where she was hired as CEO in 1999. She was fired six years later, after leading a major merger with computer-maker Compaq and laying off 30,000 workers.

Written by Catherine Lucey