Republican U.S. Senate candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina held a conference call with reporters a short while ago to trash-talk President Barack Obama’s visit to California today to raise money for incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., but not all of her facts stand up to scrutiny.
“The president is out here today because Barbara Boxer is vulnerable and the Democratic establishment is working overtime to prop her up in a way it has never done before,” Fiorina said, noting that along with last week’s announcement that Dianne Feinstein is chairing Boxer’s re-election campaign, “we are witnessing a rescue mission in action.”
Fiorina then said Boxer is vulnerable due to policies such as health care reform – “a cynical and partisan piece of work that was hastily written” – that President Obama has pushed with her support. But Fiorina doesn’t seem to grasp where most Californians stand on this. A Field Poll last month – just before the legislation passed – showed voters evenly split in their assessment of Obama’s handling of the issue of health care (45 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving), an improvement from January when more voters disapproved by a 53 percent to 39 percent margin. Even the latest poll from the somewhat rightward-leaning Rasmussen Reports shows that support for the health care reform plan is stronger in California than it is nationwide, with 50 percent of California voters thinking it’ll be good for the country – that’s 11 points higher than results found on the national level – while 41 percent think it’ll be bad.
Fiorina also noted public frustration over a national debt that has reached record levels under President Obama, yet failed to mention that the debt grew from about $5.73 trillion to about $10.63 trillion under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, due in part to his tax cuts for the wealthy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fiorina challenged Obama and Boxer to explain to voters exactly how the economic stimulus bill they championed is helping California. But Boxer has been proudly doing that for about a year; her website is replete with pages and news releases touting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s tax relief, infrastructure spending and job creation for Californians.
Fiorina cited California’s still-high unemployment rate, 12.6 percent. But as the Obama supporters at Organizing for America would note:
“I don’t think the people of California are in any mood to extend Barbara Boxer’s contract to work for them in Washington to 34 years when her first 28 have been a total failure,” Fiorina concluded, saying she believes Californians are “angry and frustrated that these policies will do nothing but feed the growth of government by increasing taxes and costing jobs.”
I asked her how President Obama’s fundraising for Boxer is any more desperate than the fundraising that U.S. Sen. John McCain, whom California and U.S. voters rejected in Obama’s favor just 18 months ago, did for Fiorina here in California just two weeks ago.
“I think the president’s time is quite a bit different than any senator’s time,” she replied, noting she’s embroiled in a heated primary while Obama is stumping for Boxer way before the general election season. “I think his visit speaks for itself and I think the polls speak for themselves too.”
But those polls look better for Tom Campbell, Fiorina’s GOP primary rival, and for Boxer than they do for Fiorina.