"I will fight for every job," Fiorina said in a March speech. "And I use the term very deliberately because Nevada fights for our jobs, Texas fights for our jobs, North Carolina fights for our jobs and so does Mexico and Guatemala and Brazil and China and India and Poland and Russia and the list goes on and on."
She is careful in her speeches to emphasize that by "fighting" for jobs, she means cutting regulations and lowering taxes. She does not mention that, as a corporate chieftain, she was an enthusiastic proponent of "offshoring," even sometimes referring the practice of exporting American jobs as "right shoring."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, May 22, 2010 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 2 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Carly Fiorina: An article in Thursday's Section A about former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina's quest for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination said allegations that the company had evaded the U.S. trade embargo against Iran first surfaced in a December 2008 newspaper report. Several reports had been published before then mentioning HP among companies suspected of skirting the embargo.
In January 2004, Fiorina drew howls from labor on the left and protectionists on the right when she told Congress, "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore."
The response was so pitched that Fiorina penned an essay -- "Be Creative, not Protectionist" -- for the Wall Street Journal. "Spending our time building walls around America will do nothing to help us compete for the millions of new jobs being created." The focus, she wrote, must be on "next generation" jobs and industries -- biotech, digital media, etc.
In an interview, Fiorina insisted that in her time at Hewlett-Packard, which was racked by layoffs -- as many as 33,000 by some estimates -- she created more jobs than she eliminated.
"We had more employees by the time I left HP than either pre-merger HP or pre-merger Compaq had, combined," she said.
That claim is difficult to back up. According to HP's government filings, the company had 84,400 employees worldwide in 2001, the year before the merger. In 2001, Compaq had 63,700 full-time employees. Together the two companies would have a total workforce of 148,100.
But in that same period, HP bought more than a dozen other U.S. companies with at least 8,000 employees, according to company filings, press releases and news reports. And in 2005, when Fiorina was fired, the company reported a worldwide workforce of 150,000.
She acknowledged moving American jobs to other countries but said: "We also added jobs in this country. Those are just the facts. And if you go into the proxy statements and track it, you'll see that."
Proxy statements, however, do not offer information about the location of employees. "Unfortunately we don't have that breakdown available," an HP spokeswoman said. "We only release the total worldwide numbers."
When asked if she could document her claim that HP increased the number of jobs in the U.S. during her tenure, Fiorina's campaign sent two news clips. One was an Associated Press account from May 30, 2002, which said "Palo Alto-based HP has 74,000 U.S, employees and 150,000 overall." A news report from 2006 said HP had 80,000 U.S. workers.
But on Feb. 13, 2004, in her Wall Street Journal essay, Fiorina had written, "[W]e have 60,000 workers here." Thus, between May 2002 and February 2004, the number of HP's U.S.-based employees had dropped by nearly 20%.
"I would say she has created a lot of jobs," said veteran Hewlett-Packard engineer Dan Dove, 55, who has worked at the company's Roseville, Calif., site since 1980. "But they are not in the United States."
At times, Fiorina has been accused of fudging facts or previous positions. In those moments, she shows glimmers of the chief executive who won't be contradicted.
During a debate, she became testy when DeVore tweaked her about missing meetings as a member of the Defense Business Board, a group of American business executives who give advice to the Defense Department. DeVore accused her of attending only two of seven quarterly meetings; the board's records for 2007 and 2008 show she attended three.
"Of course, I was battling cancer last year and unable to travel," she said.
When DeVore pointed out the missed meetings occurred before her cancer was diagnosed in February 2009, she snapped, "Did you hear what I just said, Chuck? Did you hear what I just said? Did you hear what I just said?"
"Just repeating what the Pentagon told me," DeVore replied.
Fiorina also has been dogged by her shifting position on Internet taxation, something she once pronounced inevitable. In her famous "Demon Sheep" ad, she attacked Campbell for supporting the rights of states to impose taxes on Internet commerce.
But in 2000, she appeared to accept the idea.
"While it's unrealistic to forever exempt e-commerce from taxation," she said at the Aspen Conference, "it would be a tragedy to apply our medieval tax system to the Internet. Wouldn't it be wiser to reform the old tax system with all its inefficiency, its complexity, and then apply the new system equally to both the online and offline worlds?"
In an interview, she said it was "crystal clear" that she has always opposed such taxes. Those who disagree, she said, "are looking to be confused." Indeed, Fiorina is apt to insist something is true because she says it is: "The facts are the facts" is a favorite expression.