June 7th, 2010
12:29 PM ET
8 years ago

California Senate race: Is printer ink a national security issue?

Los Angeles (CNN) - It's a sign of how fierce the battle for the California Senate seat could become. In the days before the California primary, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican frontrunner and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina are already trading barbs over national security. But one of the fights isn't what you might expect, its over printer ink.

"Printer ink is not a national security issue", Fiorina told CNN.

Why is that part of the discussion?

It started with Fiorina's latest ad. The Republican candidate, polling 15 points ahead of her nearest Republican opponent according to the two most recent non-partisan surveys, has set her sights on the general election. She accuses Boxer of playing politics with national security.

Featuring a clip of Boxer saying in 2007 "one of the very important national security issues we face, frankly, is climate change" the commercial cuts to a get-tough image of Fiorina saying straight to camera "Terrorism kills. And Barbara Boxer is worried about the weather."

When the ad first aired last week, the Boxer campaign quickly responded, accusing Fiorina of having a "troubling record on protecting Americans from terrorism". Their evidence: The campaign CHARGED that while Fiorina was Hewlett Packard CEO, the company was trading with Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism. This charge has followed Fiorina since 2008 when the Boston Globe reported that Hewlett Packard printers were awfully popular - and available - in Iran, despite the US embargo. Apparently Hewlett Packard sold products to a subsidiary which then sold them to another company, which sold them to Iran. Last year Hewlett Packard stopped selling to that intermediary.

In an interview with CNN, Fiorina acknowledged that both during and after her tenure, one Hewlett Packard product - printer ink - was distributed in Iran. She pointed out that no laws were broken (Packard was never charged with a violation of the embargo). In the past Fiorina's campaign has told reporters that during her tenure Fiorina had no knowledge of HP sales to Iran. Fiorina told CNN:

"The point is the employees of HP have always complied with the law which Barbara Boxer knows well if they would bother to check the facts."

But Fiorina also seemed to suggest having technology inside Iran has its advantages, telling CNN: "By the way Dell computers are distributed in Iran. Apple ipods are distributed in Iran – thank goodness, that is how we found out what was going on in the streets of Iran during the summer last year."

The Fiorina campaign says she fully supports the embargo and has called for what a campaign spokesperson describes as "crippling sanctions" against Tehran.

While Fiorina is poised to win Tuesday's primary, a recent Los Angeles Times/USC poll indicates Fiorina trailing Boxer in the general election. The same poll has former Rep. Tom Campbell - a more moderate Republican - leading Boxer. Campbell's campaign ran low on money in the final days of the primary.

Fiorina tells CNN she isn't worried about the polls this far ahead of the election. "The polls I pay a lot of attention to are the folks who would vote for her. She is very vulnerable," says Fiorina.

Filed under: 2010 • Barbara Boxer • California • Carly Fiorina • Popular Posts
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Victim of GOP Taliban

    No thanks...Calif doesn't need a fired CEO and another elitist candidate. Meg is enough already.

    June 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Chandler01

    Carly Fiorina lied about John McCain's position on insurance companies covering the birth control pill, just to score political points. What is it with the GOP in California, thinking they can buy elections? Fiorina has no credibility, and the last thing we need is big corporations having even more power in our state.

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Don of Iowa

    Fiorina will do anything to try and distance herself for rediculous reasons from this issue when she knows the only reason HP was in this deal was to make money even though there was an embargo, it is NOT over printer ink being a national security issue, it is over a CEO of a company deciding to ignore embragos on a country supported by our own government. How can you expect someone who does these despicable acts for their own interests to do anyting for the interests of the avewrage American citizen when they have already shown they are for one person and one person only and that is themselves.

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. Jilli

    So it wasn't enough for Fiorina to almost destroy a national company like HP, now she wants a chance to do the same to California?

    No thanks.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Marge

    Boy the republicans sure know how to pick candidates. This woman was fired from HP for incompetence. And she was voted about the 20 or so worst CEO. Now she is running for the position of senator from California...gee what a joke.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. valjon

    I live in California,,,Carly will lose,despite the anti incumbent enviroment..

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. josephine

    Is this woman stupid or what? Can't believe she has the nerve to even run for office with her track record that is almost just as bad as Palin's. What is happening to this country?

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. Brandon

    I am not voitng for any Tea Party candidate. Period. There are enough nut jobs here in California without having one for Senator. I would prefer Tom Cambell (R), but between her and Boxer. Definitely BOXER WILL WIN THIS ONE. HANDS DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. Steve in North Carolina

    Barbara Boxer is a national embarrassment. Please put someone else in California!

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Fiorina will fire everybody in California just like she was fired. Wake up Califorina, putting Fiorina in office is a "none negotiable".

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. SocialismBad

    Boxer is more interested in insulting our military commanders than in protecting the country. Ultra-liberals like Boxer have ruined California and now the USA. Time to send them ALL packing in November.

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. Lili, FL

    Boxer is a waste

    June 7, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. Marie MD

    This woman makes as much sense as that other idiot from AK who campaigned for her (just that should make her lose). The story states that she was not aware of HP printers in Iran. She was too busy making her millions to care and then she was, poof, gone. Similarities anyone?
    Yes, terrorism is very important, but there are other issues besides terrorism plaguing us. As a repug she can't stand the fact that global warming is real or that there are a lot of both US and world problems needed to be solved. It was mostly phones used in Iran during the short lived uprising.
    Then again, CA is the state of beautiful people and they are going to nominate and vote for her? Barf 🙂

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Elitist candidate?" By "elitist" do you mean Barbara Boxer and the rest of the far-Left who think that ordinary Americans are too dumb to make their own health-care decisions?

    June 7, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. Victim of GOP Taliban

    If Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina are so smart and successful, why do they hate each other to the point of Whitman funding Fiorina's opposition candidate?

    June 7, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    This Carly broad sure looks harsh....

    June 7, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    God she's stupid. "...concerned about the weather." Cute. But retarded. The only reason you would buy into that kind of rhetoric is because you're both terrified of brown people AND science. Grow up.

    June 7, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. Penny

    As I live in California, I have to live with this mess. Carly Fiorina was responsible for the horrendous merger between Compaq and HP, a merger that indirectly impacted my ex-husband as his company worked closely with Compaq. I rememnber that time very well and that merger was disasterous for HP in so many ways. The board of directors for HP agreed and canned her, which I applauded. This woman does not have one clue as to any of the national security issues that impact California and this nation. The thought of having another incompetent in a position to dictate foreign policy (much of Congress and former George W Bush are also in this category), is appalling. I don't like Boxer but given the choices, I'll stick with someone who has some knowledge, printer ink flap and all.

    June 7, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Obama to speak at Michigan high school"

    And judging from the comments under that article, the conservatives need to go back to kindergarten.

    June 7, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. Al-NY,NY

    Despite having a better chance of changing the senate seat from D to R w/ Campbell, the tightie righties and their T-baggin' friends will nominate someone who doesn't stand a chance in the general election.....dummies

    June 7, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Christian

    Boxer is hard to watch. I don't think she's fit enough to run a taco bell let alone be my Senator. Plus if she did run a Taco Bell she would yell at any of the African American drive thru customers if they drove a nice car.

    June 7, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    I thought Carly is a felon. Maybe she would be appropriate for Congress.

    June 7, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    " she and HP broke no laws"- There is the word and there is the spirit when discussing the law.
    Carly is not what California needs. Carly is a big business, skirt the laws and morality in business candidate.
    With what she and Meg have spent on campaigning, they could have made a serious financial contribution to California instead of wasting it on TV ads.

    June 7, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. Panterazero

    Chandler01: "What is it with the GOP in California, thinking they can buy elections?" Money, and lots of it, is the only thing that will substitute for political experience and ethical substance.

    June 7, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Jim

    Actually Carly, more people die from weather each year than terrorism. And global warming has the potential to kill most of the human race. We have to stop letting climate change deniers play politics with this issue. Either its happening or its not and anyone who has studied it can see how bad it looks.

    June 7, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
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