Boxer, Fiorina At Odds In Calif. Senate Race

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The California Senate race is in the home stretch, and TOTN is in the Golden State to hear from the candidates directly. Host Neal Conan and NPR's Ken Rudin talk with Democratic senator Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina. Plus, a snapshot of where the midterm races are headed across the country.


This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in San Francisco.

Christine O'Donnell is not a witch, smack-down debates in Connecticut and here in California, and the Donald may have two words for the president.

(Soundbite of TV show, "The Apprentice")

Mr. DONALD TRUMP: You're fired.

CONAN: It's Wednesday and time for a pink-slip edition of the Political Junkie.

President RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

Former Vice President WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad. Wheres the beef?

Former Senator BARRY GOLDWATER (Republican, Arizona): Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

Former Senator LLOYD BENTSEN (Democrat, Texas): Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

President RICHARD NIXON: You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore.

Former Governor SARAH PALIN (Republican, Alaska): Lipstick.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: But Im the decider.

(Soundbite of scream)

CONAN: Every Wednesday, NPR political editor Ken Rudin joins us to discuss the week in politics. This week, the polls continue to shift with 27 days till Election Day. We'll give you a snapshot of the balance in the House and Senate, Fauxbama in Kentucky and the president comes unglued in Washington.

In a bit, the two major-party candidates for Senate here in the Golden State, incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina. If you have questions for the candidates, you can email us now, talk@npr.org.

Later in the program, a look back at San Francisco's immigration station at Angel Island. But first, the political junkie, Ken Rudin, joins us here in the studios of member station KQED in San Francisco. And Ken, as usual, we begin with a trivia question.

KEN RUDIN: Hi, Neal, but before we begin, I want to thank KQED for allowing us to use their studios. And also, I was in KPCC Pasadena earlier in the week, and they love the show, too. So maybe the two stations could fight it out who likes it better.

CONAN: Okay, we'd certainly go for that.

RUDIN: Here's a trivia question. Since we're in California, name the last person in California to have won the nominations for governor, senator and the House. Now, they don't necessarily have to have been victorious in November, but they were the nominees for the Senate, the governorship and the House in California.

CONAN: So if you think you know the last major-party candidate for governor, Senate and the House of Representatives from the state of California, all three, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. And of course, the winner will get a fabulous no-prize T-shirt. And Ken, we're going to go every Wednesday until Election Day with a snapshot of the balance of power as the polls make it look right now for the House and the Senate.

RUDIN: Well, right now, I mean, there are a lot of Democrats talking about a subtle shift, although subtle is the key word there, in their direction. They think that President Obama is trying to bring out the faithful who came out for him in 2008 but have shown reluctance in 2010, and all the momentum seems to be on the Republicans' side.

But some Democrats say well, look, there's a new Rasmussen poll that shows the Republicans, the generic number for the Republicans is only up three points. There's a Newsweek poll that actually shows the Democrats with a slight lead.

And so everybody says wow, maybe it's not going to be so bad for the Democrats on November 2nd after all. And then there's a Gallup poll that just came out that shows among likely voters, Republicans have a lead between 13 and 18 points. Now...

CONAN: That's a tsunami.

RUDIN: That is a tsunami, and of course, we've never seen anything like that, even, you know, I think the last time Republicans won anything, huge numbers like that was 1946, when I think they won 56 House seats, which is going back a bit and unlikely to happen on November 2nd.

But the truth is, nobody seems to know what's going to happen except for the key fact there are 10 Senate seats the Republicans need to pick up to win control of the Senate. Right now, I don't think it's doable. I have them up by about seven, and they're going to have to get those undecideds to put them over the top.

CONAN: What about the House of Representatives?

RUDIN: Well, that's also very close. And again, if you go into individual races, you'll find that some Democrats are doing better than expected. But right now, the Republicans have a real possibility of winning the House.

Now historically, the last time one party won the House without winning the Senate was 1930. So usually, if you win the House, the Senate comes along with you. Right now, it seems easier for the Republicans to take control of the House, depose Nancy Pelosi as speaker, than it is to win the Senate.

CONAN: Well, in the meantime, there has been a hot race here in California. We're going to be talking later with the senatorial candidates, Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina. But over the weekend, the candidates for governor of California got into a heated exchange about the revelations that Meg Whitman employed an illegal immigrant. This all blew up last week after the show. Here she is accusing Jerry Brown of using the maid for political gain.

Ms. MEG WHITMAN (Republican Gubernatorial Candidate, California): Jerry, you know, you should be ashamed. You and your surrogates put her deportation at risk. You put her out there, and you should be ashamed for sacrificing Nikki Diaz on the altar of your political ambitions.

CONAN: And Ken, there is Democratic lawyers involved in this. Any indication that this is in any way connected to the Brown campaign?

RUDIN: Well, there is no evidence of any connection to the Brown campaign. Of course, Gloria Allred, who nominally I guess is a Democrat and has supported progressive causes, was the one who, you know, trotted out Nikki Diaz at a press conference last week.

Do I think it's suspicious that this happened right before a Hispanic debate, you know, a Spanish-speaking debate on Univision last Saturday? No, I don't think it was a coincidence. I think it was timed, just like the news that George W. Bush had a drunk driving arrest happened like two weeks before the 2000 election. These things happen.

But the problem is: One, Meg Whitman has said for the longest time that the employers are responsible, should be held responsible for the immigration status of the people who work for them; and two, for somebody like Meg Whitman to say that, you know, she's like family to us, and yet as soon as she found out about this woman abruptly fired her, it just seemed I think thats what's really hurting her in the polls in California.

CONAN: And Jerry Brown in the debate leapt on what he regards as an opening.

Mr. JERRY BROWN (Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate, California): Don't run for governor if you can't stand up on your own two feet and say hey, I made a mistake, I'm sorry, let's go on from here.

You have blamed her, blamed me, blamed the left, blamed the unions, but you don't take the accountability, and you can't be a leader unless you're willing to stand on your own two feet and say yes, I made a mistake, and I'm going along from here.

CONAN: So the Hispanics in the campaign were thought to be leaning towards the Democrats and Jerry Brown anyway.

RUDIN: Well, yes, but there's a big difference between the Senate race, and in the Senate race, there was a recent L.A. Times poll that showed Hispanics pretty much comfortably for Barbara Boxer over Carly Fiorina. In the governor's race, much closer.

They did not seem to be so crazy about Jerry Brown, and Meg Whitman clearly said she needs the Latino vote if she's going to become governor, and she thought that debate would give her an opening. But now everybody's talking - what everybody's talking about now is not immigration or the $19 billion budget deficit but Nannygate.

CONAN: We're talking with NPR's political junkie Ken Rudin. We have some people on the line who think they know the answer to this week's trivia question, and that is the last person in the state of California, major party nominee for the House of Representatives, the United States Senate and governor of the state of California. And let's see if we can go to this is Suzie(ph), Suzie with us from Norman, Oklahoma.

SUZIE (Caller): Yes.

CONAN: Go ahead.

SUZIE: Okay, will you repeat the question one more time so I can make sure I've got it right?

CONAN: The last person in the state of California to run, a major-party nominee for Congress, for the U.S. Senate and for governor.

SUZIE: Earl Warren.

CONAN: Can we have the "Jeopardy!" theme please?

(Soundbite of humming the "Jeopardy!" theme)

SUZIE: Did I get it right?

RUDIN: Suzie, you're on the air.

SUZIE: Hi, this is Suzie Howard.

RUDIN: We remember you.

CONAN: We're waiting for your guess.

SUZIE: Oh, I thought you heard me: Earl Warren.

CONAN: Earl Warren, also a Supreme Court justice, of course.

RUDIN: Yes, and Earl Warren was governor of California but never ran for the Senate and never ran for the House.

SUZIE: Oh, darn it.

CONAN: Thank you, Suzie.

SUZIE: All right.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's see if we can go next to this is Nicole(ph), and Nicole's in Boise.

NICOLE (Caller): Hi, how are you?

CONAN: Very well, thank you.

NICOLE: I'm a California native. So I'm hoping my guess is right. Is it Jerry Brown?

RUDIN: Well, Jerry Brown, of course, ran for governor in 1974 and '78 and is running again in 2010, and he also ran for the Senate against Pete Wilson in 1982. But, alas, he never ran for the House.

NICOLE: Okay, thanks.

CONAN: Thank you for the call. Here's, well, the other side of that from Mike in Portland: Pete Wilson.

RUDIN: Pete Wilson also was elected governor and elected senator, one of the few people who have done that in this country, but again, like Jerry Brown, never ran for the House.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go next to Brad(ph), Brad with us from Hamilton in is this Indiana?

BRAD (Caller): Yes, it is.

CONAN: Go ahead, please.

BRAD: Richard Nixon.

CONAN: Richard Nixon.

RUDIN: Richard Nixon is the correct answer.

CONAN: Ding, ding, ding.

RUDIN: Richard Nixon was elected to the House in '46. He was elected to the Senate in 1948, beat Helen Gahagan Douglas in that lovely, fun race, and also ran for governor of California in '62 but lost to Pat Brown.

CONAN: And of course ran a couple times for president of the United States, as well.

RUDIN: Oh, I missed that.

CONAN: You did. But he's not a crook.


CONAN: Anyway, we also have a correct answer from Roland(ph) by email in San Mateo. So I'm afraid we're going to have to send out two Political Junkie T-shirts.

RUDIN: You can't just rip one in half?

CONAN: Well, I'm not sure it would fit Brad. Brad, anyway, we're going to put you on hold and collect your particulars, and you'll get a political junkie T-shirt in response for your promise to send us a digital picture by email. We can post it on our Wall of Shame.

BRAD: Well, you already have my picture because I've won it once, but I'm looking forward to sending another in.

CONAN: Well, you're going to have to send upside-down in this one.

BRAD: Okay. Thanks, guys.

CONAN: All right, Brad's on hold. In the meantime, Ken, there was there's been a lot of movement - you're talking about the Democrats in the United States Senate. Russ Feingold, thought to be safe in Wisconsin, now looks to be in trouble.

RUDIN: He is in big trouble. He's among the seven seats I see switching, perhaps switching to the Republican Party. He is trailing his Tea Party guy and a wealthy candidate, Ron Johnson, a first-time candidate. Again, Wisconsin sounds like a very progressive state, it always seems to vote for Democrats for the Senate and Democrats for president, but it seems like, according to the polls, that Johnson has made serious inroads against Russ Feingold.

I think Democrats lose North Dakota Senate seat; Arkansas with Blanche Lincoln; Indiana, the Evan Bayh Senate seat; Pennsylvania, the Arlen Specter seat; Colorado, the Democratic incumbent, appointed incumbent, Michael Bennet is trailing. And if they can get Illinois, too, the old Obama Senate seat, that gives them seven but again not the magic 10.

CONAN: You didn't decide about Kentucky, where the Tea Party candidate, Rand Paul, is running for Senate on the Republican line and is out with a new ad that sounds, well, he's got President Obama as the star.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As President Barack Obama) Jack Conway has given me a stamp of approval. Conway supported me for president, helped bankroll my campaign and even fought to pass my health care plan. Now, I need Conway in Washington because I know I can count on Conway to vote for more spending and debt, bigger government and higher taxes.

(Soundbite of telephone)

Unidentified Man #1: (As President Obama) There he is now, Mr. Jack Conway. Now there's a guy I can work with in Washington.

CONAN: And that is not, of course, President Obama.

RUDIN: No, but it is Rand Paul's argument that Jack Conway, a vote for Jack Conway is a vote for President Obama and the liberal leadership in Washington. And the reason I didn't mention Kentucky because that it was already a Republican-held seat.

But there are a lot of races like that, where Democrats are running without the word Democrat or Democratic in their ads and a lot of ads where the Republicans are trying to tie them into connect them with either President Obama, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid.

CONAN: And of course, the Republicans had hoped to pick up the Senate seat in Delaware once held by the vice president, Joe Biden. That's Christine O'Donnell's nomination now, and she's running ads saying she's not a witch.

RUDIN: She's not a crook, either. But it looks like the Republicans had an opportunity for that seat, they're not going to take it.

CONAN: And we should mention a report today that, well, Joe Biden may go to the State Department soon, and the vice presidential nominee could be?

RUDIN: Hillary Clinton, according to Bob Woodward.

CONAN: Well, we'll see about that. Political junkie Ken Rudin is with us here in the Golden State. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in San Francisco today, at the studios of member station KQED.

Political junkie Ken Rudin is with us, as he is every Wednesday. He's been blogging from here at npr.org/junkie. You can also download his podcast there and follow his election scorecard for the midterm elections, even solve a ScuttleButton puzzle if you'd like to. Again, that's at npr.org/junkie.

We're going to spend the rest of our time today with the candidates for U.S. Senate from California, Senator Barbara Boxer and her Republican challenger, Carly Fiorina.

California voters, if you'd like to ask a question of the candidates, 800-989-8255. Or drop us an email, talk@npr.org. And Senator Boxer joins us now, running for her fourth term, and she's on the phone with us from Oakland. Senator, nice to have you with us today.

You're up by a few points, according to the latest polls, but by any normal political calculation, this might not be a close race. In 2004, you beat Bill Jones by 20 points. What message do you take from the surge of Republicans in this election?

Senator BARBARA BOXER (Democrat, California): Well, I've had three races before this one. The first two were razor-thin because our state is a very independent state. And, you know, we don't have more than you know, we don't have any party with more than 50 percent.

So it's kind of a purplish state, and the one against Bill Jones was a very big victory, but the others were very tight. This one's going to be very tight. And these are tough times, and people want to make sure who's on their side.

And I've been, you know, working in Washington, doing my best, supporting jobs bills and focused like a laser beam on the economy, doing everything I can in the last years or so. And I've had several Republican opponents beating up on me, even the gubernatorials beat up on me on TV. So I have to get out there and fight for this seat for the people, and it's just fine.

I mean, I'm very excited about it because this is a race between two people who couldn't be more different. So the people have a clear choice, and I think that's always important.


RUDIN: Senator Boxer, there seems to be an anti-Democratic wave, at least for most of the country. You see somebody like Scott Brown winning Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts. You see in West Virginia, which hasn't elected a Republican since 1956, there's a new poll that has a Republican leading in that Senate race.

Why hasn't that anti-Democratic trend seem to have come out here to California?

Sen. BOXER: Listen, I view these races as very much clear choices between the two candidates. And my race is close, make no mistake about it. And the people want to know who's on their side, who's fighting for them.

But I think in general, the people in my state like President Obama. My opponent has criticized him mightily. My opponent has the endorsement of Sarah Palin. She is not popular in California.

So they see this for what it is. They're beginning to see it. And even though nobody's satisfied with the job creation, for goodness sakes, it's too slow, it's painful. This was a dark and deep recession. They also recognize that the seeds of all these problems were planted during the Bush years.

When the president took the keys to the Oval Office from Bush, he had a huge deficit of over a trillion dollars, and jobs were bleeding, 700,000 per month. Very different than when George Bush took the keys from Bill Clinton, and we had 23 million jobs created under Bill Clinton. I worked with Bill Clinton on all those policies, and a surplus. Not only did we cure the deficit, we had a surplus. So I think the people here are beginning to put this into context.

CONAN: Here's an email question from Scott(ph) in Sacramento: Please, one concrete thing you promise to do.

Sen. BOXER: I promise to do in the future?

CONAN: Yeah.

Sen. BOXER: Jobs, jobs and jobs. And we just passed the small business jobs bill. I wrote part of that, the Hire Act, that gave tax breaks to companies who hire long-term unemployed and replenish the Highway Trust Fund. We've done those things. We got 16 we saved 16,000 teacher jobs because we took tax breaks from companies who ship jobs overseas. My opponent wants to keep those tax breaks.

She called that bill to save 16,000 teachers here, she called it disgraceful. I mean, I don't know what's disgraceful about making sure that our kids in public schools, 95 percent of them go there, have a teacher in the classroom.

And going forward, I want to make sure that we defeat Prop 23 here, which my opponent supports. It would do away with California's cutting-edge environmental, clean-energy law. Very important. We're working on that.

I want to see more refinancing of mortgages. There are a lot of people who may be underwater in their mortgages, but they've never missed a payment. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have the ability, because they own about eight million mortgages, to help that happen.

I want to see repatriation. That's a function of having the a lot of companies who have foreign...

CONAN: Bring jobs back into the country.

Sen. BOXER: Yeah, bring the money back. They have foreign sales. They haven't shipped jobs overseas, but they have foreign sales and the money is sitting there, a billion dollars. And I want to definitely, definitely extend the tax cuts to the middle class, not to millionaires and billionaires and companies who ship jobs overseas. So that's...

CONAN: Senator, a quick question from Ken, if you will, and then we got a caller on the line.

Sen. BOXER: Sure.

RUDIN: Senator, quick question. I read the L.A. Times endorsement of you, and it was just going on and on about your record, about your voting record and how they, the editorial board agrees that your voting record is right for California.

But it also said, and this is a quote, it said that you have an assertiveness that is often perceived as arrogance. It talks about the fact that you have a strident voice. That seems to be the argument I've heard against your candidacy, even from Democrats who normally would be very enthusiastic about you. What do you say about that?

Sen. BOXER: Well, I have a lot of tremendous support from Democrats, from small businesses, even from Republicans and independents...

RUDIN: But about the arrogance, your assertiveness bordering on arrogance? What do you say about that?

Sen. BOXER: Well, I mean, you have to be tough to get things done. And it is true, when I see people come forward - I mean, I'll never forget the Enron people who came forward. They had hurt my people so badly. They had pushed small businesses out. They had cheated. They lied. They hurt people. I do have a sense of outrage, I realize that, but I am who I am. I'm not perfect.

But I've always felt that when my people are being hurt, you know, I do get that sense of outrage and it comes across, and if some people view it as arrogance, I can assure them that's not what it's about at all. It's just my true, heartfelt feeling of when somebody's right, I'm with them, but when they're wrong, I'm going to very clear. And but it's up to individuals to judge that. You know what? Again, it's the way you view somebody's character, you know.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get Gail(ph) on the line, and Gail's calling us from Walnut(ph) in California.

GAIL (Caller): Hi, yes. I had a question for the senator. You know, she keeps referring to small business or businesses, million-dollar businesses shipping jobs overseas.

I'm a very small manufacturer and because of the EPA regulations and all the different regulations that she signed and others like her have signed, most of my business, a lot of my business we've had to move overseas in order to get the parts made.

Then we have to ship them back over here, and then we put them back together so we can sell them. The only way we can be competitive here in California and not have to move our business out of the state, like a lot of other people have or entirely ship it overseas, is by doing that. And that's because of the onerous regulations that have been passed.

And I want to find out: Do you understand that those regulations, that those jobs that we have to ship overseas are not million-dollar businesses? I have a very, very small, under-one-million-a-year operation, but I employ 10 people.

I provide all their medical coverage. I give them vacation times. I am a good employer. I'm a small-business owner, and the taxes are killing us. And we're doing everything we can. We've financed or refinanced our house and put all the money back in our business.

And you keep referring to us as some sort of millionaires, and we're not. We're just small businesses trying to stay afloat. And yes, we have to use China labor and China manufacturing because everything here, the worker's comp, the EPA and everything has just been overwhelming to us.

Can you understand small business? I don't you know, come and see us.

CONAN: Gail Senator Boxer?

Sen. BOXER: Sure. Well, actually, I wrote the small business jobs act, in which we gave no less than 10 tax breaks to small businesses. And I have huge support among small business.

And I really do want to respond. I don't sign any regulations, but I do support the Clean Air Act. You know, dirty air actually is a factor in asthma in our children. It is directly responsible for tens of thousands of people dying prematurely. And I believe it's very important that we and when we do trade agreements - and this is where I have a disagreement with my opponent.

She said she'd support every trade agreement. I've only supported half of them because you want to make sure that we don't have onerous regulations here, but we allow other countries, who, you know, try to import products to our country, they have no environmental laws or no labor laws. And they use child labor. That's wrong.

GAIL: Well, dont you think...

Sen. BOXER: So yes, small business is a major priority of mine. I urge you to understand that we're giving $40 billion worth of tax credits for health care to small business. We just gave a break. If you hire a long-term unemployed, you get a totally free tax holiday. We're allowing you to write off very quickly any investments that you make but...

CONAN: Senator, you may not have heard, Gail was trying to get in with a follow-up question. I don't mean to interrupt. But, Gail?

Sen. BOXER: I'm sorry.

GAIL: You know, when you're talking about - I don't - I've already - you know, my - to hire another employee, my employees have all every one have voluntarily taken a one-day cut in pay, every single day, every single employee. Instead of laying somebody off, each - one of them has one day a week, they're taking a day off without pay. That's four days a month for each one of my 10 employees. I can't afford to hire somebody else. Tax breaks don't mean anything to me. I'm so far in the red; I don't need another tax break.

What I need is less regulation. I need to be able to bring my manufacturing back here. I need to expand my business here in California. I need to break through these regulations. And I understand we can do this, and we still can be good stewards of our environment. But to have environment in California and not environment or even environment in Los Angeles County versus no environment in San Bernardino County versus no environment regulations in Nevada is not going to do anything in terms of the overall air quality. Everybody has to work together, and it has to comprehensive. It has to be a worldwide...

CONAN: Gail...

GAIL: ...comprehensive.

CONAN: ...give the senator a chance to respond.

Sen. BOXER: Well, yeah, if I could just say, you need - in order to work, you have to breathe clean air. You have to drink clean water. And I know you share that. And I agree with you, it has to be fair. That's why I don't support trade agreements which are tougher on our own businesses and work to make sure that there's fairness there.

But clearly, small business, you are the job creators. Sixty-two percent of all the jobs in the last 15 years have been created by small business. So I understand you don't want tax breaks. Other small businesses tell me it's necessary.

And let me tell you the main thing I've heard from them, and it may not be your case. They need access to capital. And they want to expand, but the big banks aren't lending. So that's why the small business jobs bill we passed was so very important. But I really feel when it comes to the environment, if you take the global look at it, over the past several years in America, since - it was actually Richard Nixon who signed most of these landmark laws. You talk about Richard Nixon before. He signed these landmark laws. Overall, they have made our country healthier, more prosperous. Weve had great economic growth. We are in a rough, rough patch right now and...

CONAN: Ken...

Sen. BOXER: ...small business need access to capital.

CONAN: Ken...

Sen. BOXER: They need relief on health care, and they need relief on trade, and I'm trying to bring that to you.

CONAN: Gail, thanks very much for the phone call. We appreciate it. Senator Boxer, thank you for your time today, and we wish you the best of luck.

Sen. BOXER: Thank you so much, Neal. Bye.

CONAN: And now let's join the other candidate, major party candidate for Senate. Carly Fiorina is the Republican nominee. She's challenging Senator Boxer, and she's with us on the phone from Orange County. And it's good to have you with us today.

Ms. CARLY FIORINA (Republican Senate Nominee, California): Great to be with you. Thanks for having me.

CONAN: And as I - as we look at the race, well, it's very close. You're behind by about four points in the polls. That's very close to the margin of error. How do you plan to close the gap?

Ms. FIORINA: You know, I have been campaigning up and down the great state of California for over a year now. And whether I'm talking to Democrats or independents or decline to states or Republicans, everyone has the same things on their minds. They worry about their jobs because we are destroying jobs in this state through bad government.

They worry about out-of-control debt, which has been piling up for some time but which has increased in the last two years from 10.7 trillion roughly, to 13 trillion. And they think Barbara Boxer has been in office for 28 years - it's long enough - and she hasn't done very much to help the people of California.

CONAN: We're talking with Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate in the state of California.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And here's an email question from Tom(ph) in El Cerrito. How is government like business? And how does your record recommend you as a representative of the state? How is government not like business?

Ms. FIORINA: Well, first, I want to go back to sort of first principles. I think our Founding Fathers intended ours to be a citizen government. I think it's what of, by and for the people means. And for a long time in our nation's history, we didn't have career politicians. We didn't have people who went to Washington and spent their whole life there. We've sort of grown accustomed to that, but it isn't working really well because people like Barbara Boxer and others on both sides of the aisle who've been in Washington their whole professional life, they keep arguing over the same things. We have all these ideological battles going on. The problems aren't getting solved.

I think what's the same about business and government is, in both cases, it's about solving problems. And in both cases, to solve problems, you have to find common ground with people. You may not agree with on absolutely everything, but you can agree with them on the important things. What does it take to create jobs in the private sector, not just growing government bureaucrats, as we have to the tune of 100,000 new ones in the last 12 months? What does it take to cut spending?


Ms. FIORINA: I think those are the things that are the same.

RUDIN: Hi, it's Ken Rudin here. I've been in California since Friday, talking to a lot of voters and things like that. And many people I've talked to said, yes, Barbara Boxer is arrogant, and we've had enough of Barbara Boxer. But their argument I've heard about you is that you're -like you're too - what they say is you're too reflexively conservative for a state like California.

Now, we know that California does elect Republicans. We saw it with Pete Wilson. We saw it with Schwarzenegger and things like that. But they said that your views on abortion, which is pretty much to the right of the - seemingly right of the mainstream in California, is more conservative than they would like.

Now, how do you address the fears of the Tea Party when you have the people, you know, concerns from your right and a state like California where most of the voters seem to be on the left of the Tea Party?

Ms. FIORINA: Well, you know, I think what Ive found is that people of all parties and I have Democrats who've endorsed me, Pete (unintelligible) is an example. I have Democratic Latino mayors who've endorsed me. I've had independents and Republicans endorse me and organizations as diverse as the California Manufacturing Technology Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, all the way to the California Police Chiefs Association.

And I think what people are focused on is, what is it we need to do to create jobs? We have 23 counties with unemployment above 15 percent.

CONAN: Ms. Fiorina, I apologize. We got to you a little bit late. Can you stay with us for a couple minutes and take a call from a listener?

Ms. FIORINA: Of course.

CONAN: Thank you very much. Carly Fiorina is going to stay over and take a caller. And Ken Rudin will be here as well, our Political Junkie, as he is every Wednesday. We're also going to be talking about a new book that looks back on the history of the Angel Island immigration station here in San Francisco Bay.

Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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CONAN: Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate, is still with us on the line. Also with us, Political Junkie Ken Rudin. We wanted to give a caller a chance to talk with her. And Joshua is on the line from South Sacramento.

Ms. FIORINA: Hi Neal.

JOSHUA (Caller): Hi. I was calling to ask the CEO and would-be senator what her policies were on jobs for California when she outsourced jobs (unintelligible) charge of HP and how it would be any different for the people of California now if she were to take the Senator Boxer's job in Washington?

CONAN: Referring to her former job as head of Hewlett-Packard.

Ms. FIORINA: Well, you know, I started my business career as a secretary in a very small business. I typed and I filed and I answered the phone for a nine-person business. So I have seen a little business from the very bottom, and I've seen a very large business, the largest technology company in the world, from the very top.

And I think the best answer to your question came from a previous caller. You had a previous caller on the show, Gail, who is a small business owner, and she was talking about the fact that it is government policy that is driving jobs out of this state and out of this nation. And she's right.

You know, I can remember the state of Texas welcoming our new jobs and the state of California and people like Senator Boxer not caring about where our jobs went. The net - I created jobs when I was at Hewlett-Packard, but we shouldn't be confused. In the 21st century, there are other states and other nations fighting hard for our jobs. And we need to fight just as hard to keep our jobs.

That's why I proposed a two-year payroll tax holiday for every small business that can reemploy an unemployed worker. It's why I proposed a five-year tax holiday for new businesses if they will locate here and put their factories and their facilities and their investment and their employment here. It's why Ive proposed that we give existing businesses a tax break if they will relocate their companies from overseas or out of state back here. It's why I've said we must be number one in innovation in the world. We're now 17th in the world in terms of our R&D tax credit.

We can get our jobs back. We can regrow our manufacturing base. We can grow our economy again. But first, we have to change the policies that are destroying jobs and destroying our ability to build new businesses. And to change all those things, we have to change the people we send to Washington. Barbara Boxer has had 28 years to fight for jobs in the state of California, and the reality is we are facing today our highest unemployment in 70 years. Our state is in distress, and she's had long enough to try and fix it.

CONAN: Carly Fiorina, thank you very much for your time today. You've been very patient with us.

Ms. FIORINA: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

CONAN: And good luck to you, too.

Ms. FIORINA: Thank you so much.

CONAN: Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and advisor to the McCain campaign in 2008, now the Republican senatorial candidate here in the state of California. Our thanks as well to Political Junkie Ken Rudin.

RUDIN: Thank you, Neal, and thank you KQED.

CONAN: And we'll be back with Ken, I think in Washington no, we'll be in Columbus, Ohio next week. Well, why do we always go to Ohio? Anyway, Political Junkie from Ohio next week.

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