On the closing day of CPAC, I attended a panel discussion which would be of interest to most any conservative, titled Putin, Russia and the new cold war? The first panelist for this session was former Hewlett-Packard CEO and potential presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. This was my first time hearing Carly speak in person and the topic was one which will be critical to any 2016 candidate. Carly’s introduction as the first speaker was rather clever, since the moderator listed her extensive resume and accomplishments, finishing by saying that he would have preferred to have been introducing Hillary Clinton, as the list would have been much shorter.

Fiorina began her remarks by noting that she has met Vladimir Putin and knows that he is a man who can exude charm, is full of confidence and has swayed many people. (One of the factors which make him so dangerous and, at the same time, successful as a politician in Russia.) She noted his ability to stare into a camera with a straight face and lie about anything from invading Ukraine to having one of his chief critics assassinated. She further credited Putin (as much as one can credit a tyrant, as she called him) for his clever and strategically sophisticated power plays which have kept him on top and furthered his chief ambition… the return of Russia to a position as a preeminent power on the world stage.

He marched on Georgia and sometimes we forget that nothing has happened since then. He marched on Crimea and nothing has happened. We are now facing a negotiation over how much Ukrainian territory the Russians will actually keep and under what conditions. This is because this administration is unwilling to challenge any of those forays. Not into Georgia. Not into Crimea. And not into Ukraine.

She then went on to point out that Barack Obama has sold to Americans the false premise that there are only two choices… boots on the ground or nothing. Carly disagrees, and feels that leadership is what is required, and one place to start is arming the Ukrainians, as they have been asking us to do since the beginning. Another is to put some teeth back into NATO and help arm them while rebuilding our own missile defenses in the region. But the real key, as she pointed out emphatically, is understanding your enemy.

Putin is not a man of ideology. His is a man who seeks power for power’s sake. Political power, economic power, military power… he sees his role as restoring Russian power, Russian supremacy to the world.

I must say that I agree with the assessments I heard from some other writers here regarding Fiorina’s goals. After this speech, I don’t believe she is “running to be Vice President” in this election. I don’t know if she can break through to the top tier and seize the nomination, but she is clearly determined to try. Her grasp of foreign policy is just as strong as her background on economics and domestic issues, and she can light up a crowd with forceful, intelligent discourse on key areas of concern.

Through multiple appearances here, I would say that Carly Fiorina only helped her chances by investing all this time at CPAC. She is an impressive candidate and has definitely earned a place on the debate stage with the rest of them.