Saturday, August 9, 2008

Democrats pan Carly Fiorina as possible McCain VP pick

The Democratic Party opened fire Thursday on a former Silicon Valley executive who's rumored to be on presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain's vice-presidential short list.

California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres; Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, and Democratic National Committee Research Director Mike Gehrke held a conference call to roll out a Web page criticizing former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, a prominent McCain economic adviser, fundraiser and media proxy.

"Carly is definitely out of touch with Californians and the problems facing American families," Torres said. "That's the kind of person we least want to be leading our country into the 21st century."

After rising through the ranks at AT&T and its spin-off, Lucent Technologies, Fiorina was HP's CEO from 1999 through 2005 and its board chairwoman from 2000 through 2005. She championed a controversial acquisition of rival Compaq in 2002, but HP's performance slowed and she was dismissed by the board in February 2005.

"Carly Fiorina is an accomplished and inspiring American business leader and her experience is an enormous asset to the Republican Party as a whole," Republican National Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson said in response to the Democrats' jabs. "Instead of attacking one of our nation's most successful women, Democrats and Barack Obama should explain why he wants to raise taxes on American families and small businesses Advertisementalready struggling with high energy costs."

The Democrats' Web page notes Fiorina in early 2004 spoke in defense of U.S. companies sending jobs overseas, saying "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore" — not a stance that sat well with workers.

Fiorina said this while advocating for improving education, doubling federal spending on basic research and forming a national broadband policy for staying competitive in the global economy.

The site also notes that Fiorina this year acknowledged parking $14 billion of HP's cash overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and she also defended McCain for not moving against offshore tax havens, saying it would be better to lower corporate tax rates to lure that money back.

"Fiorina is, in my opinion, more interested in giving tax breaks to large corporations at the expense of hardworking families," Solis said Thursday. "We've already had eight years of this brand of leadership and I don't think we can afford any more."

Gehrke noted that nearly 18,000 HP workers were laid off during Fiorina's tenure, and the company "came out a lot worse than when she went in. I'm not sure that's the kind of leadership we're looking for."

Fiorina — who splits her time between Los Altos Hills and Washington, D.C. — is the only Californian featured on the Democratic Web site launched earlier this week. Other possible McCain vice presidential picks panned on the site are Florida Gov. Charlie Crist; Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty; FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith; former GOP presidential primary candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; and Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.

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