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Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina Trade Barbs in First California Senate Debate

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Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif). and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina faced off in their first debate Wednesday night, a showdown that featured sharp attacks and touched on abortion, gay marriage, immigration, the environment and especially jobs.

Each Senate candidate vowed to bring down the state's double-digit unemployment rate and characterized the other as out of touch with ordinary Californians during the hour-long event at St. Mary's College in Moraga, east of Oakland.

Fiorina, hoping to capitalize on anti-incumbent sentiment, painted the long-serving senator as a fiercely partisan and ineffective Washington insider with no connection to the middle class. She called Boxer's policies "devastating for this state."

Boxer accused the former Hewlett-Packard chief of holding "Wall Street values" and fighting "for the billionaires, for the millionaires" and corporate interests.

The senator claimed again and again that Fiorina sent 30,000 jobs overseas before being ousted from HP with a $21 million severance package.

Fiorina shot back by calling Boxer's job creation record during 18 years in the Senate ineffective.

"She is for more taxes, she is for more spending, she is for more regulation," Fiorina said. "Her record is long on talk and very short on achievement, and the reason it is short is because she is one of the most bitterly partisan members of the U.S. Senate."

The forum's moderator repeatedly scolded both women for "drifting" away from the questions at hand to lob verbal snipes at each other.

The face-off featured a handful of recorded questions from California voters. One resident asked why Boxer felt like she needed to run for a fourth term. Why not give someone else a chance? The senator replied every election is an opportunity for voters to have a "clear choice" about who they want to represent them.

"I'm in the United States Senate because I fight for the people; I fight for the dream," Boxer said.

The economy took center stage, but the debate also featured a number of other issues

On abortion, Fiorina said she she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade "if there were an opportunity," but she added "it is not something I am running on."

Boxer, a longtime supporter of abortion rights, jumped on the issue in an effort to cast Fiorina's views as overly conservative.


"What the people of California have to understand is that if my opponent's views prevailed, women and doctors would be criminals," she said. "They would go to jail. And women would die like they did before Roe v. Wade."

Asked about same-sex unions and California's contentious Proposition 8, Fiorina said she believes "marriage is between a man and a woman." But, she said, as senator she would defer to the judgment of state voters, saying she disagreed with a federal court's ruling overturning Prop 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that banned gay marriage.

"Whatever your views about gay marriage, I think many of us would conclude that when voters have such a clear decision, for that decision to be overturned by a single judge seems perhaps not appropriate," Fiorina said.

And, no, there wasn't a mention of "hairgate," the kerfuffle that flared up earlier this summer when Fiorina was caught on an open mic making fun of Boxer's 'do. Fiorina deemed the senator's hairstyle, "Sooooo yesterday." Boxer has since been trying to play the gaffe against her opponent.


"It's not about hair. It's about real issues that matter," Boxer said Tuesday during a campaign stop in San Francisco.

The two have been running neck-and-neck, and now all eyes will turn to new polls in the coming days to see if the debate helped make up voters' minds.

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93 Comments

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Rob & Kathy

ajp91911:48 AM Sep 2, 2010 Don't blame a U.S. Senator for state problems. ********** What state does Boxer represent?...

September 03 2010 at 12:10 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jwsxnxfl

Funny, I lived in Cali for a while. I met very many conservatives while I was there. The northern part of the state seemed to be very conservative... as did the extreme southern. The Hollywoodiacs exihibit very conservative actions related to thier fianances, as they go begging thier servants and maintenance personnel to give many dollars to whatever cause the Hollywoodiacs endorse. Meanwhile they take deductions for time, fuel, compensation loss[just for showing up at a "cause" event. Thereby laying again, those expenses on the backs of the "small" people. Yet thousands come worship at the alter of the red carpet whenever like Moses they come down from the mountain and grace them with presence. Boxer ain't the big problem... people and thier "PRIORITIES" is. People need to educate themselves to the fact, there are people out there that will take everything you own... for there own... and laff in your face for your stupidity. I think the author here knows very well of what I speak. Please God, let this pass PC muster. Amen

September 02 2010 at 6:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
RON & CAROL

Boxer is our gal!!

September 02 2010 at 4:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dnlblf

Amen, lolajo. Republican legislators have been acted like U-boat commanders, shooting torpedoes at the ship of state and then complaining that the boat is sinking.

September 02 2010 at 4:22 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
birdogx

How many jobs has California lost in the past 18 years due to high taxes and regulation? Many jobs went to neighbor states Arizona and Nevada. Alot went out of the country to Mexico, Brazil and China. A drop in the bucket to what Fiorino could have done as an exec trying to keep the business afloat in an oppressive, anti business climate found in California. Where were all of the tax relief bills that Boxer could have sponsored to keep jobs in the US and California. She has done nothing to help either! I'm happy to have had the chance to vote against her once before leaving the state for a better job climate. California, save yourself and America!! KNOCKOUT THE BOXER!!!!

September 02 2010 at 3:54 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to birdogx's comment
vobox3343

Swartzeneggar isn't governor of California anymore? Strange, the states with the most millionairs appear to have the most or worse financial troubles. how's taht possible? No middle-class did you say?

September 02 2010 at 5:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

Your political web-site's polls are out-of-date. On August 25, 2010, Rasmussen poll shows: Boxer 44%, Fiorina 43%. After the debate, I'll bet Fiorina has the edge.

September 02 2010 at 3:04 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
chrissf4529

Boxer has along history has of voting "party" first, her interests next and finally what is good for the state Lobbyists". I will say this can be said of both parties. But, if the "change and outsider is what got Obama elected, those same voters need to look at Boxer and realize "Old Guard" by the book politician. Its time for her to go.

September 02 2010 at 3:00 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
prdam65

Barbara Boxer has been an ineffective Senator for far too long, and she must GO! She has been a "hand-raising robot" for Dem party, regarless the issues or their merits. She brought nothing good to California, but brought bad Fed laws which was detrimental to the economy of California. In the last her re-election, Repubs foolishly put a guy (son of secreatary of treasury March Fung) who couldn't possibly be elected. Boxer is a smooth talker, but it's always talks only. Hope this is the time finally to dump Boxer for the good of CA and America.

September 02 2010 at 3:00 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
logan2260

I believe Carly Fiorina would be a terrible choice for California. As a sales executive at Lucent, she employed tactics which made her look good in the short term, but it turned out to be more like Enron accounting. At HP, jobs were outsourced under Carly which unfortunately is not really that unusual for an American company. The layoffs were terrible for employees, and to make the situation worse they were handled very poorly. In the past, front line supervisors had input into these types of decisions. Under Carly’s outsourcing it came from the top down with little or no lower level input. This just alienated more employees and made the problem worse. The employees really began to despise her not only for the outsourcing, but for her imperial management style. For example, she had her portrait hung in the corporate headquarters right up next to the company’s founders. Bill Hewett and Dave Packard built the company from nothing and were revered by the employees. Bill and Dave pioneered the idea of management by walking around, getting out and talking with employees to find out what was going on. Carly was good at staging campaign style rallies with employees, but these became viewed as propaganda events with no real substance. Carly ended getting bodyguards because she was so unpopular with employees. Morale at the company plummeted, and the stock price was eviscerated. When the company was not achieving its financial goals she would blame everyone else around her, she never took any responsibility for her actions or the company’s problems. The board of directors eventually fired her. I did a graduate research paper on leadership, and was surprised about how weak and inept Carly was for HP. Going into the research I though I would find examples and arguments of strong leadership, but it was hard to find anything positive.

September 02 2010 at 2:59 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to logan2260's comment
ettu

When gov't regulations and disregard for applying tariffs on imports in order to balance the scales, and outrageous union demands made it NECESSARY for American companies to outsource, Fiorina did the job she was paid to do. She took that company from certain ruin, to profitability. Once she did the heavy lifting, those who thought she was too heavy-handed in some of her dealings decided they would reward some male to take over and usurp HER success. The game is still played this way, but it is slowly losing ground.

September 02 2010 at 3:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

The debate was embarrassingly controlled by a bunch of partisan lefties. It was "moderated" by a leftist partisan, Randy Shandobil, who interjected himself to attack Fiorina. The "panel" doing the "questioning" were three far-left partisan "reporters" (S.F. Chron's Carla Marinucci, KQED's Scott Shafer and Pilar Marrero of La Opinión). Their loaded questions were from far-left viewpoints. (I was particularly amused by Shafer's question premised on Obama being half-way through his "first term"! LOL!) There were no tough questions addressed to Boxer. The "viewers" questions chosen by the lefties were easy on Boxer and tough on Fiorina. Fiorina was impressive and gracious throughout, despite the obviously prejudiced questioning from the lefties running the show.

September 02 2010 at 2:53 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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