Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer released a blistering new ad Wednesday that accused rival Carly Fiorina of enriching herself as the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard while presiding over thousands of layoffs and the relocation of American jobs overseas.
The 30-second ad, airing on broadcast and cable channels in California's four largest media markets, hews to the central theme that Boxer has tried to drive on the campaign trail: that Republican nominee Fiorina was an unfeeling CEO who valued personal ambition over the jobs of average workers.
"Fiorina shipped jobs to China and while Californians lost their jobs, Fiorina tripled her salary and bought a million-dollar yacht," the narrator says. "Carly Fiorina. Outsourcing jobs. Out for herself."
Long before she announced plans to run for public office, Fiorina spoke openly in interviews about the controversial moves she made at HP. While promoting her memoir "Tough Choices" and more recently on the campaign trail she has said her actions — including forcing through the merger of HP and Compaq Computer Corp. that resulted in many of the layoffs — were necessary after the dot-com bust to turn around a struggling company that had fallen behind its rivals in Silicon Valley.
She has said her experiences, particularly with moving U.S. jobs overseas, have uniquely equipped her to work on job creation issues for American companies if she is elected to the U.S. Senate. On Wednesday evening, the Fiorina campaign launched a new website with testimonials from current and former Hewlett-Packard employees defending her record at the company. The website also details the company's gains since it acquired Compaq in 2002.
Boxer's ad draws heavily from Fiorina's own statements — including a 2006 interview with InformationWeek where she said she laid off more than 30,000 workers during her five and a half years at Hewlett-Packard, and another with an Austin, Texas, public television station in early 2008 where she explained some of those decisions. The Boxer campaign weaves grainy and unflattering images of Fiorina with heavily edited clips from the Austin television interview.
"When you're talking about massive layoffs, which we did on my watch, you're talking about a recognition that perhaps the work that's getting done no longer needs to be done at all or perhaps the work needs to be done somewhere else," Fiorina said in that interview, snippets of which are included in the ad.
The Fiorina campaign charged that the ad was deceptive and, noting that Boxer is also a millionaire who has accepted contributions from companies that have shipped jobs overseas, said Boxer was trying to distract from a record of "job-killing legislation that cripples small businesses."
"With a record like that and with the polls showing her career in serious danger, it comes as no surprise that she has resorted to baseless, personal and deceptive attacks on Carly's record as chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard in an effort to save the only job she cares about: her own," Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.