HPE CEO Whitman: I Am 'Definitely' Not Going To Run For President


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Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, who was cited by The New York Times in 2008 as among the women most likely to become the first female president of the United States, said she would not consider running for the nation's highest office.

"We should be glad that anyone wants to run for public office," said Whitman, who made an unsuccessful run for governor of California in 2010, spending $144 million of her own fortune. "This is one brutal game. It was in 2010 when I ran, and I think it is worse today. Honestly, it is a full-on combat sport. Think about it: why are there so many more litigators than there are politicians? Because they are used to that full-on combat sport."

Whitman,who backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the last presidential contest, made the comments at the 2017 Best of Breed (BoB) Conference in Atlanta, to an audience of 300 top global technology service providers during a question and answer session with The Channel Company's CEO Bob Faletra.

[Related: Best of Breed 2017 Conference]

Whitman said her run for governor was "probably" her only "experimentation" with running for public office. When pressed by Faletra on whether she would "think about" running for president if there was a "Draft Meg Whitman" movement, Whitman replied: "No, I would not. I would definitely not think about it. Someone tweet that – I am not thinking about running for president."

That said, Whitman noted that her "next step" might be something in public service. "We'll see what happens," she said.

Whitman is on the board of Teach of America, an organization that recruits college graduates to commit to two years teaching in urban and rural schools, and the Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization.

Among other topics discussed in the Q&A, Whitman noted that tax reform that would allow companies like HPE to bring back cash being held overseas at a discounted rate would be a boost to the U.S. economy.

"If it is a very low [tax] rate [to bring that cash home] – like less than 3 percent – I think you would see a lot of cash come back and I think you would see investment in the United States," Whitman said, noting that HPE has about $9 billion in cash overseas. 

"I think all of the big tech companies,  as well as every other major American company, has been lobbying for this for 10 years," Whitman said. "So I am a little bit more jaded about this because it is very difficult to get things done in Washington. That might be an understatement. We'd be enthusiastic about it, and frankly, I think it would be good for the United States economy."

Rick Chernick, the CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise partner in Green Bay Wis., No. 323 on the 2017 CRN SP500, said he would love to see Whitman run for president. "I think she would be a great president," said Chernick. "The problem is she is too smart to run for president. People like Meg don't want to run because they believe the way the system is made up they can't get anything done. And the people that are great want to get things done. She can make a difference at HPE."

Ray Paganini, CEO of CornerstoneIT, a Mentor, Ohio, solution provider, said he also would love to see Whitman run for president. "She is smart, a business person who knows how to work with people," he said. "She would cut right through the politics and get things done."

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