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. Steve- Illinois

    Why vote for an ex CEO when you can continue to vote for someone who has done nothing but feed at the breast of the tax payers for the last 30 years?
    Anyone with the competence to become CEO of a fortune 500 company is more qualified than anyone currently serving in washington D.C., from the President on down!

    Let's see, a proven businesswoman, or a career politician?

    Common Sense!

    June 7, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. Danny Cali

    Florina and HP doesn't help America peoples Most of the HP Electronic are build in other Country only not in U.S.A. so, if she want to be a Senator she need to tell the HP CEO bring all HP Electronic back to U.S please. Barbara Boxer going to be re-elect for California State Senator another term.

    June 7, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Michael from Ventura

    No- we don't need another republiCANT blow-hard here. Barbara Boxer has served us well and will be re-elected.

    June 7, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Toney

    Barbara Boxer should start saying her farewells, casue she is FINISHED. She has been in the senate hurting her state far too long.

    June 7, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Sam Ellison

    Barbara Boxer should have known that national security is only the top priority when making loads of cash isn't...

    June 7, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Ken in NC

    Stupid is as Stupid does. She must be the twin to Half Gov. Sarah Palin. That would explaine why she is only half stupid because Sister Sarah is the other half of stupid.

    June 7, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Marty, FL

    The Fiorina campaign somehow claims to "fully" support the embargo yet grateful to sell products to Iran anyway–something Fiorina miraculously knew nothing about even though she was suposed to be the CEO. Huh?

    Where is the personal responsibility, Ms. Fiorina? Is it any wonder Fiorina was forced out of HP and listed as one of the worst CEOs of all time?

    June 7, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Laurie in Spokane

    This is supposed to be newsworthy? Leave it to the Republicans to try and muddy the issue with PRINTER INK? Come onnnnnn.

    June 7, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Jayson

    Anyone who thinks a Republican can do more to screw up California than the Democratic party has is a fool. Democrats at the state level have controlled the assembly so why haven't things gotten better? A Democrat wrote the legislation responsible for the changes made that caused the energy crisis in 2001, they spent the increased tax revenues from the tech bubble resulting in permanent funding obligations in the future, from and they turned a blind eye to the housing bubble.

    June 7, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. Victim of George W's ECONOMY

    Tea-Baggers are bringing on their own demise.

    This IS the End of their World as they know it.


    YOUR judgement day IS coming FAST Tea-Baggers!!

    June 7, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. EBC

    Anyone who votes for this nut-job Fiorina deserves the same bankrupt treatment thousands of Hewlett-Packard employees got when Carly Fiorina drove the company into the toilets and yet she still managed to walk away with a $20+ million golden parachute, while company employees LOST all their 401k investments!!

    Do you want a FIRED CEO to manage California's serious issues? The very same CEO who was FIRED because she ran her last company into the toilets and left they employees holding the bag?

    is this who Californians want running their government? Seriously?

    June 7, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |

    Fiorina would like to forget about her dealings with Iran just because it's ink. She had no trouble dealing with a terrorist just because ink wasn't on the illegal list of items. Neither is oil, but we must have their oil because the GOP won't help the President change our energy policies. But ink? There is no reason for her to be dealing with this terrorist state, just greed, the GOP way. She can't say she wants to fight the terrorists while she gives the money at the same time to fight us. Fiorina is a typical GOP hypocrite and by the way when the GOP touts her great ability as a CEO just remember that she ran HP into the ground and was fired and also walked away with millions of dollars with her golden parachute, once again the GOP way.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    June 7, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Illinoisprog

    Don't forget that Fiorina was also part of the managing cabal that brought Lucent Technologies to its knees...and her proudest accomplishment at HP was the number of Americans she put out of work by moving jobs overseas.

    June 7, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. Nando

    Boxer has nothing to worry about, Plus she will have to please her Masters when she wins the GOP nomination, When she starts lashing out a Latino's And African Americans !!!

    June 7, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Walter, Long Beach

    This is exactly the kind of weaseling that got Fiorina fired from HP. Evading a boycott against Iran just to make a buck and then mumbling some excuse about not having broken any laws might go over in Louisiana or South Carolina. But Californians aren't going to buy it.

    June 7, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Glen

    Fiorina thinks that climate change means bad weather? Climate change doesn't just kill, it causes extinctions.

    June 7, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Wisconsinite - Conservatives want to take their country back. Progressives want to move their country forward.

    Steve in North Carolina June 7th, 2010 12:45 pm ET

    Barbara Boxer is a national embarrassment.

    No. Actually, she isn't. But obviously, if you happen to be a right-wing nut, you think you can make unsubstantiated statements like this and get away with it.

    June 7, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. C Thomas

    We, the people of the United States of America have got to take a moment ot learn about our elected representitives. If you take time at all, you will see that both Fiorina and Wittman are both trying to buy and election.
    One of the questions you need to ask is; Why would anyone spend tens of millions of dollars of their own money to get a job that pays $174,000 a year? The answer is; they expect to make back all of their 'investment' from various sources once elected.
    The next question to ask is; Once you cut through the chaff and packaging, what does each candidate actually stand for, Principle or popularity?
    Become informed, an informed citizen is the best answer for the political times. Become informed and VOTE!

    June 7, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Pete in Guilford

    Sorry Carly, but the weather kills more people per year, by far, than terrorists. Idiots.

    June 7, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. BB

    Fiorina is a tool. She is an embarrassment!!!
    GO BOXER!!!!!!!!!! Barbara Boxer will have no problem beating
    this idiotic woman who is one of the worst CEO's of a company.
    She's a joke!!!!!!!

    June 7, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Bob of Lompoc

    CA Male Centrist Anarchist Nut Here. FARGOSPEAK: "Oh yaw". And if Barbara Boxer was in any way associated with sales to Iran, down to and including toothpics, you would be screaming bloody murder that Boxer was in cahoots with Arab Terrorists in Iran. This of course would be wrong again, consistent for you Ms. Fiorina, but wrong, because Iranians, although 95% Muslim, are not Arabs, but Persians. I'm voting for Boxer. BTW, Boxer has better hair.

    June 7, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Dennis1020

    I am a life-long California Democrat and elephants will fly before I vote for Barbara "call me Senator" Boxer. The Republicans in this state, however, will engage in their usual circular firing squad and nominate someone (Fiorina) who cannot, and will not, beat Boxer. I can't vote in the Republican primary or I would vote for the experience, intellect and moderation of Tom Campbell, and will vote for him if he makes it past tomorrow's primary. Unfortunately, the Republicans in this state want someone from the right, and not the middle, and will have to put up with Boxer for the next 6 years, along with the rest of us who see Boxer as the lightweight of the Senate and an embarrassment to this state.

    June 7, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Mark Hudson

    Barbara needs to pack her bags. Time to go. I am a Democrat who will vote for Fiorina.

    June 7, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. harvey

    Carly had no knowledge of computer sales to Iran. She also had no knowledge of anything else at HP, which is why she was FIRED.

    June 7, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  25. Larry

    Printer ink isn't a national security issue.

    Fiorina's record for incompetence and ethics disregards is.

    June 7, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
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