Babs Goes Negative (Big Time) on Carly; Flack Notes


Barbara Boxer unleashed a forceful attack on Carly Fiorina on Thursday – a purely negative ad noting that, as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the Republican nominee for Senate laid off 30,000 workers, shipped jobs to China, tripled her own salary, bought a million-dollar yacht and five corporate jets.

Kaboom. That’s nasty. Especially because the charges are based in fact and the star of the ad is Hurricane Carly herself, defending the “massive layoffs” she implemented at H-P. And the kicker slogan is killer: “Carly Fiorina – outsourcing jobs, out for herself.”

You can’t get too much more negative than that, unless you were to accuse her of personally stealing Christmas from the crippled children of jobless workers.

But as Calbuzz always says: an election is not a tea party. Negative is fair, if it’s true.

And the Babs campaign backed up the charges in the ad with clips, like this quote from Fiorina from Information Week 10/16/06:

When we combined the R&D budgets of HP and Compaq, we didn’t have to have two R&D teams working on industry standard servers, for instance.  We could have one. That’s why the merger was such a great idea.  We could decrease the cost structure by billions and billions of dollars.  In the course of my time there, we laid off over 30,000 people.  That’s why I understand where the anger came from.

Fiorina’s head didn’t exactly explode. But her spokeshuman called the ad “baseless, personal and deceptive” and the campaign sent out a letter to supporters seeking urgent contributions to respond. Said the appeal:  “I need your help to set the record straight. Your immediate donation will help our campaign get up on the airwaves to hold Boxer accountable for her abysmal record.”

For reporters, the Fiorina campaign sent out an exhaustive “fact check” e-mail arguing:

1. During Fiorina’s tenure as CEO, H-P’s workforce increased to more than 145,000 from 84,400.
2. After she left, CEO Mark Hurd laid off another 40,000 workers.
3. While she was CEO, H-P’s revenues grew to $86.7 billion from $42.4 billion.
4. H-P is a stronger company today because of what Fiorina did as CEO.
5. Boxer has taken large campaign contributions from companies that shipped jobs overseas.

All of which raises the question, “So what?” Because the charge – backed up by Fiorina’s own statement – is that she laid off 30,000 workers. And she shipped jobs to China, etc.

Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski would not tell Calbuzz how much money they’re putting behind the ad, which is scheduled to run in markets throughout the state. “The Outsourcing ad is in rotation with the Made in America ad.  We’ll run them together for as long as needed to reach our target audience,” Rose said.

With the increased stakes in controlling the U.S. Senate from the Tea Party victory of anti-masturbation advocate Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican Primary, our guess is the Boxer hit on Fiorina will get some serious air time. At least until the Fiorina-would-overturn-Roe v Wade ad comes up in rotation.

Fun with flacks: Along with toll taker and industrial paint drying time assessor, the most boring job in the world has got to be working as a spokeshuman for Meg Whitman, and we mean that in the nicest possible way, and with no offense intended to the Volcanic Pompei, Million Dollar Mary Anne or Dependable Darrel.

But really: day after day after day rolling out the heaavvy robo-recitations of “she is endorsing Meg because she believes Meg is the best person to create jobs and fight for every area of the state” and “this is the latest example of problems Jerry Brown is having shoring up his base” and “adoring crowds of Indio residents, delirious with joy, rended their hearts and their garments as they greeted Meg with chants of “Meg’s Plan! Meg’s Plan! Meg’s Plan!” Sheesh.

Which is why Calbuzz was so pleased by one of the dozen or so daily missives from Meg Com that landed in our mail box Thursday, linking to a video which not only contained humor (!) and a light touch (!!) – but also bore unmistakable signs of irony (!!!) as well.

Sent out by Andrea Jones Rivera, deputy under assistant junior vice president for eMeg’s  “Media Memo,” it made the quite piquant observation that Jerry Brown’s latest ad – in which he boasts “I’m not going to give you any phony plans or snappy slogans” – is actually jam-packed full of focus group-friendly, time tested hoary platitudes:

It won’t take playing the soundtrack backwards and at half speed to see that the same ad where he decries “snappy slogans” has 7 of them by our count. Take a look for yourself.

Snappy Slogans in Jerry’s new ad (7)
· tough decisions
· live within our means
· power from the state capital and move it down to the local level
· closer to the people
· no new taxes without voter approval
· pull together
· As Californians first.

Well done, Amusing Andrea – more like that. And tell the rest of that crowd  in the communications shop to lighten up a little, too, willya?

Speaking of flack humor: Pretty good mash-up tweaking Meg by Jerry Kid’s.

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There are 10 comments for this post

  1. avatar aturtle says:

    Speaking of cutting up … I saw the ad last night running on Project Runway. Ouch. The Boxing Gloves are off.

  2. avatar Bob Mulholland says:

    Fiorina was laughing and bragging when she laid off over 30,000 Americans and even said she wished she had done it sooner. There’s a cold and callous CEO but in 2005 H-P realized they had a monster on their hands and fired Fiorina. Now Fiorina gets to watch herself in her own words in Senator Boxer ads. There are thousands of former & present H-P employees supporting Senator Boxer now. Fiorina has few friends.

  3. avatar robinpeggy says:

    I loathe Carly Fiorina. I have given money to Boxer for the first time in years because the prospect of Carly Fiorina in office is horrifying. But your article shows a lack of business understanding. IF she eliminated 30,000 jobs while increasing the overall job rolls at HP from 84,000 to 145,000, then she created jobs, wherever they were located.

    There’s plenty to criticize in Fiorina’s record. But you have to be a less lazy journalist to do so.

  4. avatar tegrat says:

    Who’s the numbskull that came up with “well, her successor laid off 40000 workers”? Fire that person immediately. Wouldn’t it be rich to have her actually use that line in and ad? Maybe she could spice it up a little, you know “Hilter killed over 6 million, but Stalin…” or something along those lines.

  5. avatar Divebomber says:

    “All of which raises the question, “So what?”” – Boy… right you are! I agree! “So what? How about focusing on real issues.”

    However, for a group a guys whose head spun around because Ms. Whitman used the term “Sunnyvale” instead of “San Jose”, I’m still floored by your… (here I go again) hypocrisy. Why not make the counter-point that even with 30,000 layoffs, she grew the company by an additional 60,600 employees? Seems like a lie of omission to me. Perhaps you forgot to look into that? Or maybe in your twisted, blue-colored funk, it just doesn’t have the same earthshaking importance as using the word “Sunnyvale” instead of “San Jose”.

    Instead of carrying the banner for Ms. Boxer and Mr. Brown, how about putting on your big-boy pants and doing some unbiased, real reporting and compare the issues that matter for economic growth in California? I.e., reduction of useless and redundant bureaucracy and regulations. Because, despite what many in government tell us, economic recovery does not come from government hand-outs.

    That might be a good start for two guys who champion themselves as hard-digging reporters for the people.

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Carly’s “job creation” was a function of merging two companies — Compaq and H-P. From the total combined company, she reduced the workforce by 30,000.

    • avatar Donald from Pasadena says:

      Thank you for pointing that out. Sometimes the obvious goes right over our heads, and we don’t bother to look up.

  6. avatar cgulli says:

    Just curious, and maybe one of the intrepid journalists on this site could ask, but how much of that jobs increase was due to acquisitions? If I buy a company with 50,000 employees, layoff 30,000, of them, I can’t really say I’ve created 20,000 jobs in my company, which is the implication of the TPs.

  7. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    Or, before you accuse the Calbuzz crew of not doing their jobs, you might do yours and see if Ms. Fiorina is telling the truth. This is the first I’ve heard about her adding headcount. Everybody I know who worked there says just the opposite. Since I haven’t researched it myself, I can’t say who’s telling the truth. But I’d certainly check and see if Carly is counting the Compaq employees from the merger. If so, her claim is only technically true and the 30,000 figure she admits to is still right.

    I’m just sayin’.

  8. avatar sqrjn says:

    I don’t think slamming on someone’s religion should be out of bounds, especially not when they claim that their moral beliefs guide their political conscience. I’m still personally much in favor of masturbation emancipation, but I gotta say after watching the little video young Ms. O’Donnell lays out a serious position for her moral objection to self-gratification.

    All this tea party backlash backlash is making me more sympathetic to claims by social conservatives that they are unfairly trivialised for their honestly held, but patently ridiculous religious beliefs.

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