Boxer pushes Fiorina on economy on eve of debate

By Judy Lin at Associated Press

Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Tuesday said she has a plan to revive the “Made in America” slogan, as she focused on job-creation one day before her first debate with Republican challenger Carly Fiorina.

The three-term senator, facing a tightly contested re-election bid, said she wants to focus on investing in clean-energy technology, transportation infrastructure and protecting California’s coastline if re-elected to a fourth term in November.

“We have to move forward with clear policies that will create jobs and make the words ‘Made in America’ a reality once again,” Boxer said.

She also went on the offense against the former chief executive of Hewlett Packard Co. during a speech to The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. She said Fiorina would promote a return to Bush-era policies that the senator claimed led the country into recession.

Fiorina, who has attacked Boxer’s record on jobs and federal spending, was in Fresno on Tuesday calling for an end to big-government spending. Fiorina’s spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said Boxer has supported higher taxes and regulations that hurt small businesses, and contributed to the national deficit.

“In just the last year and half she has voted to bail out Wall Street and big businesses at taxpayer expense and has done nothing to prevent the largest tax increase in history from being leveled on Americans during the worst economic time of our generation,” Soderlund said.

Boxer said that had the federal government not assisted banks and Wall Street institutions, the nation would have likely fallen into a depression. She said she supports extending Bush tax cuts for everyone except for the wealthiest.

The senator said 23 million jobs were created during the Clinton administration, compared to 1 million under President George W. Bush. She noted that was the worst record since Herbert Hoover, who was president at the start of the Depression.

Boxer also claimed Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy have not benefited middle-class Americans, who are now facing high unemployment and home-foreclosure rates.

She said her plans include ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and promoting stalled legislation that she said would promote more lending to small businesses.

“We didn’t get here overnight, and we can’t fix everything overnight. But I know if we take the right path, we will turn this economy around,” Boxer said. “Right now, our country has a very clear choice and to me, something is very clear: We simply can’t go back to the polices that got us into this mess.”

Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul responded by saying Boxer was playing the blame game for the state of the economy.

“Rather than pointing the finger at others for her failure, Barbara Boxer should be explaining to voters why after more than three decades in office, she not only has few accomplishments to her name but also routinely fails to deliver on the promises she’s made,” Saul said.

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s debate, both candidates agree Californians will decide between two women with very different views. Fiorina has said she would want to overturn Roe v. Wade and has supported expanded oil drilling off California.

Boxer has a reputation as an advocate for women’s right to choose and has championed environmental causes such as curbing greenhouse gases.

Fiorina has attacked Boxer as a failed politician who has supported taxes, regulatory and spending increases, while Boxer contends Fiorina shipped thousands of jobs overseas during her tenure.

The two candidates will participate in a one-hour debate Wednesday at St. Mary’s College in Moraga hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle, KTVU and KQED.

Fiorina said she’s looking forward to talking about jobs and getting government spending under control. “Those are the issues that Californians care about,” she said at Fowler Packing Co. in Fresno.

She said she understands that farmers are looking for a reliable water source, death-tax relief and a better guest worker program. “On each and every one of those issues, Barbara Boxer has stood in the way,” Fiorina added.

Erin Melkonian, daughter of one of the owners of the fruit growing, shipping and packing plant, said the company has not officially endorsed Fiorina. They hosted the campaign to highlight farmers and key issues for the San Joaquin Valley, she said.

As Fiorina accused Boxer of voting for big labor, about 60 union activists protested in front of Fiorina’s campaign headquarters in Sacramento and launched a Web video titled, “Carly No Es Mi Amiga,” or “Carly is not my friend.”

The short video highlights Fiorina’s support for the Arizona illegal immigration law and compares her rhetoric to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. It was designed to counter a Fiorina campaign website called “Amigos de Carly” that tried to court California’s Hispanic voters.

The protest and video was orchestrated by Service Employees International Union California, California Labor Federation and Brave New Films, a company founded by progressive filmmaker Robert Greenwald.

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