Rivals pounce on Fiorina’s bankruptcy remark

Everyone’s all up in Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s grill today about her comment that California should consider bankruptcy; actually, states can’t declare bankruptcy.

Here’s Fiorina, per the Riverside Press Enterprise yesterday:

Fiorina made a campaign stop at the CalPortland cement plant in Colton. There, she met with more than two dozen local business owners, many in the construction and transportation industries. She fielded questions from them on a host of issues.

One businessman asked her thoughts on whether the state should consider bankruptcy.

“I think it should always be considered,” Fiorina said. “Whether that is the right approach now, I don’t know. I think bankruptcy, as a possibility, at the very least focuses the mind on what has to be done to salvage a situation.”

She tried to walk it back today, talking with the Sac Bee’s Jack Chang:

When asked by The Bee on Wednesday whether she knew states couldn’t declare bankruptcy, Fiorina answered, “Sure, I knew, but what cold comfort is that to all these California voters who may not know that technicality but who are sitting here knowing that by any common-sense definition, this state can’t pay its bills.

“And in fact, the media has described California as bankrupt for months. So I find it interesting that the Democrats are saying legally, it’s not possible. Legally, it’s not possible. But the reality of where we are ought to be focusing people’s minds on what needs to be done.”

When asked what she meant to say the day before, Fiorina answered, “It’s a legal term. It’s also a common sense, everyday term that people use. Morally bankrupt, fiscally bankrupt. In every common sense definition of the word, this state is in serious trouble.”

Her rivals aren’t buying that. Are you?

From James Fisfis, spokesman for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell:

“Carly Fiorina’s claim that bankruptcy ‘should always be considered’ as an option for California is even more bizarre than her ‘demon sheep’ ad. It’s absolutely not an option because it’s not permitted under federal law — which shows a disturbing lack of knowledge for a candidate running for a federal office.”

From Joshua Trevino, spokesman for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chuck DeVore:

“So, to recapitulate:

“1) Carly Fiorina’s mention of a legal impossibility is in fact a mention of a ‘technicality.’
“2) Carly Fiorina’s advocacy of considering an explicit course of action is meant to be understood as a description.
“3) Carly Fiorina says things she professes to have known were untrue when she said them.
“4) Carly Fiorina thinks that people who point out contrary facts are Democrats. (I’ll tell Chuck!)

“Leave aside the troubling nature of an aspirant to federal office dismissing a hypothetical illegality as a ‘technicality.’ Isn’t the bottom line really that Carly Fiorina has a low opinion of the public’s intelligence — and of the intelligence of the media that informs it?”

From California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton:

“Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina suggested that California should keep bankruptcy open as an option. Experts on all sides agree that a state does not have the option to declare bankruptcy.

“Not only does Fiorina’s statement display her ignorance of California and the issues our state faces, but it also sends a message to voters that she’s giving up on the people of California. In the same way that Fiorina thought it too much trouble to vote in the past, she’s now ready to throw in the towel on the state’s economic problems.

“The top of the Republican Senate primary is quickly shaping up to be a contest between a failed CEO looking for a hobby and a man who was the architect of the Schwarzenegger budget disasters that set California on its current course.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.