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Fiorina and Carson: That's the ticket

While much of the media have focused on Donald Trump, GOP voters have increasingly turned their attention toward Ben Carson. The retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon has surged to second place in the national polls behind the bombastic billionaire and, at 79 percent, has the highest favorability rating of entire Republican presidential contender field, according to a recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll.

Thoughtful and composed, Dr. Carson also shined brilliantly at last month's GOP debates hosted by Fox News with his witty closing remarks. Afterward, Dr. Carson gained more Twitter followers than any other candidate, leading his then closest rival, Sen. Marco Rubio, by a 13,000 follower margin. Another winner of those debates was former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who came out on top during the pre-debate "Happy Hour" brawl. The limelight jumpstarted Ms. Fiorina's campaign and boosted her showing in the polls, which now place her among the top five contenders for the Republican nomination.

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With both of their whiplash-inducing gains in the polls, it's surprising more attention hasn't been given to a possible Fiorina/Carson ticket that capitalizes on their strengths — including her gender and his race. While Ms. Fiorina downplays her gender, it frees her from any assertions of misogyny from Hillary Clinton and her team. Likewise, Dr. Carson's race defends him from any claims of racism as he brings up legitimate policy concerns with the Obama administration.

These two candidates are complementary in more ways than one, however. Dr. Carson has more experience in the medical field than any other candidate, giving him the upper hand when it comes to dismantling the Affordable Care Act — a must-have for many Republican voters. Dr. Carson's self-made success story of rising from the slums of Detroit to the halls of Johns Hopkins lets him speak with empathy, not pity, to millions of impoverished Americans. He's more than willing to discuss his faith and his race, and with Ferguson, Baltimore and Charleston fresh in the nation's mind, that can only be an asset.

While Dr. Carson dazzles on domestic issues, even he admits he needs to study up on foreign policy. This is where Carly Fiorina steps in; as the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Ms. Fiorina is skilled in the art of negotiation and has no qualms critiquing the recent nuclear deal with Iran as a bad bargain. Ms. Fiorina claims to know more foreign leaders than any other candidate (with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton) and contrasts her levelheaded approach with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump's bullheaded diplomacy (or lack thereof). Again Ms. Fiorina can set her sights on the Democratic frontrunner. As a former secretary of state and senator of New York, Ms. Clinton points to her political record as an overwhelming pro. However, Ms. Fiorina quickly disparaged Ms. Clinton's "photo-op" diplomacy and claims to have negotiated many high-stakes deals herself. Ms. Fiorina's corporate expertise also gives her a basis for economic policy. And while some criticize Ms. Fiorina's controversial tenure at HP, she's cleverly spun her colored corporate past to show she's willing to change the status quo of Washington.

It's clear that Ms. Fiorina and Dr. Carson are two puzzle pieces well suited for each other. They are a political match made in heaven (or hell, if you're a Democrat). Both candidates are popular, articulate and poised. They are both Washington outsiders willing to do what it takes to reform the unyielding bureaucracy of the nation's capital. The only question that remains is: Whose name is going to be at the top of that ticket?

Ms. Fiorina's got the better chance. She's more outspoken and bolder than Dr. Carson — a leader, not a follower. But without Dr. Carson, she stands no chance at getting the nomination, and vice versa. If these two halves of a candidate come together, our nation will surely have its first female president. But it won't be Hillary Rodham Clinton.

T.C. Martin lives in La Plata; his email is t.c.martin711@gmail.com.

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