"We got our chance at the American Dream the way most people do — at the bottom of small businesses," she said of herself and her husband, Frank. "I think we are making the American Dream too hard for too many people."
Boxer spoke Thursday at a renewable-energy company warehouse 12 miles away from Fiorina's Sacramento-area event, pounding at her own campaign themes of job creation and environmental protection without taking questions from the media.
"Jobs, jobs, jobs — clean-energy jobs," Boxer said, flanked by local Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
"Clean energy is on the ballot," she said, referring to her own race as well as Proposition 23, the ballot measure that would suspend California's landmark global-warming law.
The location, at Clean Energy Systems, was designed to showcase the effect of the federal stimulus package, a core point of contention in the campaign. Board chairman Brian Griffin said the company received $30 million in federal stimulus funds, positioning it to more than double its size.
Standing at a podium with a sign that read "Jobs for California," Boxer took a swipe at Fiorina, who has said she would have opposed the stimulus.
"If she was there [in the Senate]," Boxer said, "we wouldn't be here."
Mehta reported from Salinas and Stockton and Reston from Sacramento. Times staff writers Mike Anton in Laguna Woods, Shane Goldmacher in Rancho Cordova and Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento contributed to this report.