30

John Kerry blasts Fiorina for blasting Boxer

Add 2004 Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to the chorus of party, environmental and other voices knocking Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina for her attack this week on incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s national security record.

Fiorina released a television ad Wednesday mocking Boxer’s 2007 identification of climate change as a national security issues. “Terrorism kills, and Barbara Boxer is worried about the weather,” Fiorina says in the ad.

Boxer – who had been letting most of her Republican rivals’ jibes pass without comment as they duke it out in the primary – jumped all over it, as did the California Democratic Party; Media Matters for America; the Truman National Security Project, “training a new generation of progressives to lead on national security;” and now, Kerry.

Kerry’s comments came in an e-mail soliciting contributions both for Truth Fights Back, his committee that’s “restoring truth to the energy and climate change debate,” and for Boxer’s re-election campaign:

John KerryI had to forward this because some things just can’t be allowed to stand in American politics – you have to do more than respond – you have to make the opposition pay for peddling the kind of malarkey that does our country a disservice. I just got this email from my friend Barbara Boxer in California. She’s under attack for telling the truth: that climate change is a national security issue. Her opponent – how predictable! – says Barbara is “worried about the weather.”

Just last week, you probably remember me fighting this fight with some guy from a conservative “think tank.” Now Barbara is fighting it with her Republican opponent, Carly Fiorina. But Carly isn’t just disagreeing with Barbara – she’s mocking the words and findings of the Pentagon, the CIA, analysts in the Bush Administration, generals like Anthony Zinni, Admirals like William Fallon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and, oh, gee, literally hundreds of other national security experts.

Stand up for the truth and hit back in a way that counts: You can click below to give to Barbara’s campaign to help her fight back, and you can click here to help us at TruthFightsBack fight back for the truth everywhere we can.

We’re sending $1 billion a day overseas to feed our oil addiction, repressive states like Iran are using the oil income to fund their schemes, climate change threatens the stability of nations around the globe, and folks like Carly Fiorina talk about the weather. Stand up for a Senate that stands for the truth and debates real issues.

Generals and Admirals stand with Barbara. A bunch of Republican one-line writers stand with Carly. Who are you gonna stand with?

Kerry’s comments aside, the more I think about Fiorina’s ad, the less sense it makes to me. Never mind that it comes from someone who herself said just two years ago that “the issues of climate change and energy independence are inextricably linked,” and also called a cap-and-trade system an effort to “provide the incentives of a private marketplace to encourage people to innovate and also to encourage people to find new ways of reducing their greenhouse emissions. I’m a businessperson, I know that incentives and competition in the private marketplace work.”

No, what bugs me is the ad’s apparent political tone-deafness. She targets Boxer as if she’s already the GOP nominee, yet she’s still tacking pretty far to the right with a stance that’s popular in next week’s primary but probably won’t get her very far with the independent voters she’ll need in order to beat Boxer come November.

True, by calling out Boxer before the primary, Fiorina got Boxer and the rest to respond to her as the presumptive nominee – but that could be what Boxer wants. Fiorina is better-funded than either of her GOP rivals, but a lot of analysts believe Tom Campbell would pose a bigger threat to Boxer by attracting more independents with his somewhat more moderate social stances. “Tom Campbell is Barbara Boxer’s worst nightmare,” Center for Governmental Studies President Bob Stern told the Los Angeles Times this week. And indeed, at least one recent, prominent poll showed Campbell as the only Republican defeating Boxer in a hypothetical November match-up.

Sure, this and other polls show Fiorina surging and Campbell fading in next week’s primary, but Fiorina’s ad might’ve let Boxer go a little way toward choosing her general-election opponent. Only time will tell whom this ad helped the most.

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.