Meg and Carly, McCain’s other key women

September 4, 2008, 8:35 PM UTC
Fortune

Keeping it brief today. Jessica and I are heading to the U.S. Open. Ilana Kloss, the CEO of World TeamTennis, invited us. We’re hoping Billie Jean King, who co-founded and helps run WTT, is with us too. Btw, check out BJK’s Guest Post — and a piece I wrote about her odd connections to some of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women.

Speaking of MPWomen, did you see the Republican convention last night? Sarah Palin had the starring role, but before Sarah and Mitt and Rudy (Romney and Guiliani, that is) came two women who ruled Fortune’s Power list for eight years. First up last night: Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who is now co-chairing John McCain’s presidential campaign. She was classically Meg: plainspoken and down-to-earth (and  she looked great). Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who chairs McCain’s so-called Victory campaign, was loftier, vying for electricity. “I know John McCain…,” she kept repeating, a few too many times.

As I told you a couple of weeks ago, I ran into Whitman at eBay (she’d popped in for a surprise birthday party for an exec). And though I didn’t ask her about her future, I’d bet serious money that she and Fiorina — who didn’t knew each other very well when they were CEOs in Silicon Valley — will face off for the Republican nomination in the 2010 California governor’s race. (Hasta la vista, Arnold.)

Unless McCain wins the Presidency, that is. If he makes it to the White House, both women will likely land key positions in his administration. My political sources say that Whitman, 52, could be McCain’s pick for Commerce Secretary or U.S. Trade Representative. Makes sense, since she built the world’s largest online marketplace practically from scratch. And Fiorina, who is 54, could be appointed ambassador to the United Nations or president of the World Bank. Bob Zoellick, the current World Bank head, is close to McCain and a natural choice to be Secretary of State.