June 7th, 2010
12:29 PM ET
13 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. Joe NY, NY

    Republicans love incompetent losers. Guess they identify with them.

    June 7, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. DJ in TX

    Hey California – Remember the McCain campaign pretty much put a muzzle on Ms. Fiorina after her comment that "NONE" of the leading candidates (including McCain) could lead a major company. After that, Ms. Fiorina wasn't heard from again on the campaign.

    She forgot to mention that SHE couldn't run a company either......lol. I'm not necessarily a Boxer fan, but if I had to choose between those two, Senator Boxer wins hands down.

    June 7, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    A true traitor, her hatered for American workers should nausiate anyone that has a job that has not been outsourced...yet. But thanks to the teabaggers that are so short sighted, this will give Boxer the election on a golden palter.

    June 7, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Enough

    Anyone but Boxer............she has to go, California cannot afford another term with that arrogant over spender............Remember her nickname...Barbara "bouncer" Boxer from her own little check bouncing issues.

    June 7, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Enough

    California needs to oust the career politicians and get some people with common sense and business experience in. Career Democratic politicians only understand tax and spend and tax and spend some more..................Out with Boxer and NO more Gov. Moon Beam

    June 7, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. John Haddock

    Its a silly argument both ways.

    First of all, the threat posed by Iran is grossly overstated. Although it is true that Iran's government is run by a couple of loonies, the people of Iran are some of the most progressive in the Mideast. For f sake, the Islamic Revolution was fully supported by the US government, so I don't know why the US insists on demonizing them. The only reason that Iranians dislike Americans is that Americans keep threatening to bomb them. How would you react if you were in their shoes?

    Secondly, the more computers Iran has, the more well-informed the Iranian citizenry will be, and printers give Iranians a way to communicate to those who don't have computers.

    The American embargo is bad policy. Even if we don't trade with Iran, it doesn't matter, because almost every other developed nation does.

    Besides, American embargoes have more holes than swiss cheese. For instance, you might be surprised to learn that you can buy Coca-Cola in Cuba, despite coke being an American company and the US having a trade embargo on Cuba. Here's the reality: embargoes only serve to keep ordinary (middle-class) people from traveling to the blocked country. Corporations and the wealthy move freely across any borders. So why do the embargoes exist: to hide the truth.

    June 7, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. JES

    Boxer you are so stupid.

    Why don't you go home and crawl back under the rock you came from

    It's people like you and Obama that the voters want a change for the better.

    If this the best you can come up with the you have wasted a lot of tax payers money.

    People vote for shange in 2010 and 2012 not like we did two years ago that Obama is a big joke along with the other DEMS that just want to give our tax dollars away.

    June 7, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. MikeH

    I have visions of Carly surrounded by flocks of sheep with glowing red eyes. A metaphor for Tea Baggers?

    June 7, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. If We Can Defeat Him On Health Care It Will Be His Waterloo

    Steve In North Carolina: Looks like you'll have to endure another six years of Boxer embarrassing you.

    June 7, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    How many jobs did Fiorino outsourced to China? That is a threat to national and economic security. Regarding the TEA Party, it has nothing to do with the Boston Tea Party and everything that George Wallace and his bid to become POTUS in 1968.

    June 7, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. John Tighe

    The people that say climate change only bothers tree-huggers are idiots, and should tell that to the Pentagon; those bleeding hearts i the Pentagon see climate change as a huge threat to national security.

    June 7, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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