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Fiorina campaigning on her record at HP

By Perry Bacon Jr.

SAN DIEGO-Carly Fiorina was dumped as the chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard five years ago in a dramatic fall that dominated the business pages of newspapers at the time.
 
Yet, as the 55-year-old runs for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in California, her nearly six years at the helm of HP aren't merely a few lines in her stump speech, but the entire rationale for her candidacy. Unlike other candidates across of the country, she spends little time discussing her family, political work she has previously done (Fiorina had not even voted for much of her life before the campaign) or her political philosophy, beyond general opposition to taxes and spending and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who she will face if she wins the primary today as expected.
 
Instead, she was introduced at an event here by one supporter as "the only woman to ever lead a Fortune 20 company," while another called her "a very successful businesswoman."

In one of her campaign commercials being aired now, when Fiorina first appears on screen, she declares simply, "I'm Carly Fiorina. I ran Hewlett Packard."

"I have never run for public office before, but I believe that our founding fathers intended ours to be a citizen government," she said at the event, after she accepted the endorsement of several GOP city council members. Repeating lines she uses frequently, she added, "I have not run for public office before, but I have been very fortunate to live the American dream. Only in this country, only this country, could a woman who was a history major in college, a law school dropout and started her career as a full-time receptionist in a nine-person company, only here could I have the chance to become CEO of one of the largest and greatest companies in the world."

The successful businessperson turned politician is not unusual; Mitt Romney and Michael Bloomberg are among the most successful of the recent examples. Yet, they and the woman who could be running on the same ticket as Fiorina, likely GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, had fairly unblemished records of success at the companies they ran.

Fiorina, on the other hand, served at a company whose stock price fell during her tenure and rose at the news of her departure. And while some of her moves, such as merging HP with Compaq, have proven successful, her skills in business are far from universally praised.

Arianna Packard, granddaughter of one of HP's founders, has attacked Fiorina, writing on the conservative Web site redstate.com "I know a little bit about Carly Fiorina, having watched her almost destroy the company my grandfather founded." Packard favors Chuck Devore, the state assemblyman who is trailing both Fiorina and former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell in most polls of the race.

Devore and Campbell have both highlighted some of the controversies that occurred while Fiorina was at the helm of HP, but the three have spent most of the last several months arguing over who is the most conservative candidate and who has the best chance to beat Boxer.

If Fiorina wins today though, her tenure at HP is likely to turn into a major campaign issue. Boxer is already attacking Fiorina for the layoffs and outsourcing HP did when Fiorina ran it. This is a familiar attack on a ceo-turned candidate. Romney weathered it in 2002, when he won the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts, but he couldn't in 1996, losing as a first-time candidate for the U.S. Senate.

"I don't know who my opponent is going to be, but if it is Carly Fiorina, this is the clearest choice in the nation, and I am very excited about it because she is so out of step with California voters," Boxer said at event Saturday in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times. "She has a horrific record, she hardly ever voted, she laid off 30,000 workers, she shipped their jobs to China, to Europe, to India. People suffered, she got all these perks...and so I really look forward to this race.

And the California Democratic Party has started a Web site called "Carly Failorina" that is even more sharply making the case against Fiorina's business record.


"Carly Fiorina likes to say that she'll run things the way she ran her business. And we believe her," the party says. "As California's next Senator she would undoubtedly run government the way she ran one of our state's biggest companies: right into the ground."

But don't expect Fiorina to stop talking about her complicated business career.

"Voters should view my departure from Hewlett-Packard as evidence politics exists in the boardroom as well," she said, when I asked her at a press conference about how voters should view her exit from the company. "That I know when you're driving tough change, you sometimes get arrows in your back.

She then reeled off a long list of successes of the company under her tenure.

"I will run on that record all day long, and I will hold Barbara Boxer accountable for hers, " Fiorina concluded.

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 8, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , 44 The Obama Presidency , Republican Party  
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Comments

Fiorina drove HP into the ground and, given the opportunity, will drive the state of California into the ground. No soup for you.

To the below poster: Try voting, in a pragmatic sort of way, for who's good for the state and has experience rather than voting for "the other person" based on 40 year old axes to grind. I'm sorry for your troubles, but please don't make your hatred a rationale to (further) ruin my state. Haven't the GOP done enough to this country already?

Posted by: JustinMcC | June 13, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

No vote from Vietnamese community of 500,000 people for pro-communist gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, who, as governor of California in 1975, strongly opposed Vietnamese refugees settling in California while supporting amnesty to illegal immigrants from Mexico. In fact, he works for the interests of unions and illegal immigrants only, not for California. Worst still, Brown sided with notorious Cuban dictator Fidel Castro demanding a lift of U.S. embargo on communist Cuba for its human rights violations during his visit to Cuba in July 2000 to formalize the relationship between Brown's city of Oakland with its sister city Santiago de Cuba.

Posted by: TIMNGUYEN1 | June 8, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

No vote from Vietnamese community of 500,000 people for pro-communist gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, who, as governor of California in 1975, strongly opposed Vietnamese refugees settling in California while supporting amnesty to illegal immigrants from Mexico. In fact, he works for the interests of unions and illegal immigrants only, not for California. Worst still, Brown sided with notorious Cuban dictator Fidel Castro demanding a lift of U.S. embargo on communist Cuba for its human rights violations during his visit to Cuba in July 2000 to formalize the relationship between Brown's city of Oakland with its sister city Santiago de Cuba.

Posted by: TIMNGUYEN1 | June 8, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

No vote from Vietnamese community of 500,000 people for pro-communist gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, who, as governor of California in 1975, strongly opposed Vietnamese refugees settling in California while supporting amnesty to illegal immigrants from Mexico. In fact, he works for the interests of unions and illegal immigrants only, not for California. Worst still, Brown sided with notorious Cuban dictator Fidel Castro demanding a lift of U.S. embargo on communist Cuba for its human rights violations during his visit to Cuba in July 2000 to formalize the relationship between Brown's city of Oakland with its sister city Santiago de Cuba.

Posted by: TIMNGUYEN1 | June 8, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

People vote their pocketbooks. Fiorina ran HP stock into the ground, and the stock bounced back nicely when she was shuffled out. Gotta tell you something...

Posted by: BillinBigD | June 8, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

TO: Fritz_Katz who wrote to lindalovejones:
" ... You know "Tea Bag" is a profanity, just like the n-word (which, I suppose, is why you use it). The truth is, most Tea-Party supporters HATE Fiorina -- and the anger has spilled over onto Sarah Palin for endorsing that sleaze-bag.”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Just LIKE the “N” word? I think every black person on the planet would disagree with you on that one, plus Tea Baggers gave themselves the name. I serious doubt the same would be true for African Americans being called the “N” word.

Sarah “The Bimbo” Palin is the unofficial leader of the so-called Tea Bag movement, and Palin came here personally to California for the specific reason of putting her support behind Fiorina.

Obviously, Fiorina was vetted about as much as Palin was vetted for VP, now you regret it?

So much for the ignorant Republican party which has a reputation for throwing its money and support behing people they don’t even know.


Posted by: lindalovejones | June 8, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

It always amazes me that people still fall for the business-types, as though they have some special knowledge. No one from the business realm (including the much touted MBA) has ever done any better than non-business types. Running the country is nothing like a corporation. Some of them couldn't even run a corporation well.

Posted by: jckdoors | June 8, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

@ lindalovejones " ... for her to run for office speaks volumes in terms of what Tea Bag supporters just know the Republican voter is the dumbest thing out there".
You know "Tea Bag" is a profanity, just like the n-word (which, I suppose, is why you use it).


The truth is, most Tea-Party supporters HATE Fiorina -- and the anger has spilled over onto Sarah Palin for endorsing that sleaze-bag.

Posted by: Fritz_Katz | June 8, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

We are HP stockholders who were dismayed at the wreck Fiorina caused at HP--over the concerted opposition of the families who created the company. Her decision to buy Compaq did precisely what they said it would do--lowered the value of the stock. It was $52 when she joined and $21 when she was fired--but her firing actually raised HP's value!

Someone who doesn't make good decision and doesn't listen to advice is hardly one who should be promoted to a Governorship--except in the Mad Hatter world of Alice's Wonderland! Unbelievable that she's using her tenure at HP as a reason to make her Governor.

Posted by: commonsense101 | June 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, they say anybody who wants to can run for office, and here we have it.

Just for the fact that Sarah "The Bimbo" Palin endorsed Fiorina was one clue we have another airhead running for office, again.

But for this wacko who was by her own admission a drop out, and who got fired because she was BAD for the company, for her to run for office speaks volumes in terms of what Tea Bag supporters just know the Republican voter is the dumbest thing out there.

Now are Republicans REALLY going to try to get yet another loser voted into office?


Posted by: lindalovejones | June 8, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

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