SENATE RACE HEATS UP: FIORINA, SPEAKING IN SAN DIEGO, PLEDGES TO FOCUS ON BUSINESS & JOBS

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By Miriam Raftery

February 11, 2010 (San Diego) – U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fioriona (www.carlyforcalifornia.com ), speaking at the Fairbanks Republican Women's luncheon on Tuesday, pledged to apply her business leadership skills to “grow the economy and cut spending.”

 

She is battling two Republican challengers, former Congressman Tom Campbell (www.campbell.org) and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (www.chuckdevore.com) , in the June primary. The winner will square off against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (www.senate.boxer.gov and www.barbaraboxer.com ).

 

Boxer has served in the Senate since 1992 and in 2004, secured the most votes of any California statewide candidate. A January 2010 Public Policy institute of California survey found more voters (49%) approve of Boxer’s performances than disapprove (44%), with approval somewhat lower (46%) among independents.

But Fiorina, who survived breast cancer diagnosed last February and underwent chemotherapy as well as radiation treatments, declared confidently, “Barbara Boxer does not scare me one bit.”

 

A self-described social and fiscal conservative, Fiorina began her career as a secretary with a Kelly Girls temporary service. She shattered the glass ceiling to become the first and thus far, only woman to head a Fortune 20 company. She served as chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005 and also served 20 years with AT&T and Lucent Technologies. She currently chairs the Board of the Technology Policy Institute and serves on numerous boards, including Business Executives for National Security.

 

Fioriona’s business record has received mixed reviews from independent sources. She was ranked the most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine in 1998 and led the controversial breakup of HP as well as the merger with Compaq. HP’s revenues doubled from $44 billion to $88 billion with Fiorina at the helm, but later stock prices plummeted to 60% from when she assumed leadership. After the turbulent period, she was forced out of HP in 2005 by the board of directors.
 

“The American dream comes from small business owners,” said Fiorina, who added that it’s “high time we have someone besides professional politicians.” She views jobs as the number one issue facing America, citing California’s higher-than-the-national-average unemployment rate. She pledged to champion small businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators. She criticized the Obama administration proposal for tax credits to businesses to hire workers and called instead for tax cuts for small businesses, as well as reduction of regulations to make it easier to build manufacturing plants.

 

Fiorina criticized Boxer’s record on environmental protection (Boxer earns high scores from environmental and conservation groups), noting that a halt to water-pumping in the delta has hurt thousands of farmers. “People’s livelihoods should be at least as important as the endangered species,” she said.

 

On other environmental and energy issues, she called for oil drilling off California’s coast, as well as development of clean coal and expansion of nuclear power. Fiorina opposes the cap-and-trade bill supported by Boxer, arguing it would cost jobs.

 

At the event, Fiorina announced her support for the “paycheck protection initiative”, a ballot measure which would prhibit labor unions’ abilities from using members’ contributions for campaigns.

 

Fiorina called public employee unions “the costly backbone of special interest politics” in California. She faulted Boxer for taking union money and for voting against free trade agreements.

 

Steve Smith, communications director for the Califiornia Labor Federation, shared this reaction on learning of Fiorina’s position. “For us, it’s really disappointing but not all that surprising that Carly Fiorina wants to tilt balance of power further towards executives and CEOs and away from working people,” he said. “She’s making it clear to everyone that she’s the CEO candidate, not the people’s candidate.”

 

The California Democratic Party fired off a response to Fiorina’s pledge of job creation by launching a new website, www.carlyfailorina.com . In a release sent to media, the CDP observed that Fiorina “failed to mention that Hewlett-Packard lost 28,000 jobs under her watch as CEO.”

 

The site further notes that Fiorina was named 19th worst CEO of all-time” by Conde-Nast Portolio magazine. Democrats also criticized Fiorina for offshoring HP profits and for calling the outshoring of American jobs “right-shoring.” She once observed, “There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs as a nation.”

 

In recent years, she has served as an advisor for John McCain’s presidential campaign and was considered a potential vice presidential candidate, according to numerous media reports. Like gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (former E-Bay CEO), Fiorina’s own voting record has been sporadic, according to the Los Angeles Times.

 

Recently, a media ad produced by Fiorina’s campaign has generated controversy. The ad portrayed opponent Tom Campbell as a glowing red-eyed sheep and suggested he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing for refusing to sign the Republicans’ “no new taxes” pledge which Fiorina has signed. Critics have dubbed the piece the “demon sheep” ad and countered that unfairly portrays Campbell as a big-spender, when his long-time legislative record is that of a fiscal conservative.An editorial in the San Jose Mercury news concluded that Fiorina is "likely to play fast and loose with facts."

 

At the Fairbanks Ranch event, Fiorina offered at least one factual inaccuracy. In her speech and in campaign literature, she stated that Senator Boxer has authored only three pieces of legislation that were signed into law. According to the federal website which tracks legislation (www.govtrack.org), Boxer has authored 18 bills that became law and coauthored many others. Boxer bills signed into law include measures to require air marshals on airlines after the 9-11 attacks, allow pilots with special training to carry guns in the cockpit, protect and restore California’s missions, establish after-school programs for children, protect children from dangerous toys, preserve wilderness regions, and more.

 

Boxer has been an advocate of reproductive rights for women and is pro-choice; Fiorina is pro-life and opposes abortion rights. Fiorina also opposes gay marriage.

 

Fiorina hopes to leverage her strength in the technology sector and her extensive business leadership experience to send Boxer into retirement. Her website lists a coalition of business leaders co-chaired by Reuben DeFranco, past chair of the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Dean Gittleson, an accountant and consultant to the multinational banking industry. She is also endorsed by leaders in agricultural and other fields.

 

Boxer, meanwhile, has obtained endorsement of some thirty technology leaders serving on a bipartisan committee to boost her candidacy, including Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google, Inc., John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, and committee chair Safra Catz, president and CFO or Oracle.

 

“California’s most important long-term competitive advantage will be a highly educated work force, and Senator Boxer gest that,” said Schmidt. “She’s working hard to enact an ‘innovation agenda’ that helps make sure that Californians can fill the high-tech jobs of the future.” Boxer also recently introduced a four-point plan to help small businesses http://boxer.senate.gov/en/issues-legislation/spotlight/smallbusinesses.cfm.

 

Fiorina won praise at the San Diego luncheon from Fairbanks Repujblican Women’s leader Linda Dealy, who praised Fiorina’s “proven track record” of fiscal responsibility.

 

She also drew favorable remarks from California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring and conservative radio host Mark Larson, who cited the need to get “people who understand business in charge of California,” though all three stopped short of issuing an endorsement.

 

East County Magazine spoke briefly with Fiorina prior to the event. Pointing out that some fire districts in East County are being forced to choose between cuts in fire prevention or firefighting (and in some cases, cutting both), we asked if Fiorina foresees any help at the federal level to strengthen fire prevention and protection for our region.

 

“It’s helpful if states get emergency declarations,” she replied, then added that California does not get its fair share of federal funds. “For every dollar that we send to Washington, we get back 78 cents.” She noted that many government bodies don’t practice “necessary discipline,” adding, “They have to start cutting back in the same way that families do.”

 

Despite soaring college tuition costs and a drop among California's K-12 from being ranked first in the nation to near last, Fiorina did not discuss education in her San Diego speech. On another hot topic, healthcare, she ackknowledged that without early diagnostic tests, her cancer might not have been found in time. She said she would support legislation to prohibit insurers from barring patients with pre-existing conditions and to reduce healthcare costs by limiting malpractice judgments, but did not specify whether she would support any steps to improve access to healthcare by the uninsured or underinsured.

 

A Rasmussen poll in January 2010 and and a Field Poll in March 2009 both showed Boxer leading Fiorina and other potential Republican challengers in head-to-head matchups. Fiorina polled highest of the Republican candidates in the recent Rasmussen poll.

 

For more information on the candidates, visit the websites listed at the top of this story. You can also look up voting records and interest group ratings of candidates holding federal or state offices at www.vote-smart.org.

 

Comments

HP Employees saw Fiorina's incompentence firsthand

The new site from the California democratic party, carlyFAILorina.com, is not the first to detail her failings.

Please visit carly-fiorina.com to read about Fiorina's disastrous track record at Hewlett-Packard, and see what people who worked under her at HP have to say about her.