After trekking to Burbank for an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Friday, Vice President Joseph Biden was at the Bel-Air home of Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Tom Rothman and his wife Jessica to once again raise money for Barbara Boxer.
“You’re going to win this,” Biden assured her at the start of his remarks, per a pool report.
What was striking, though, was that a year ago at another Hollywood-centric Boxer fund raiser at the home of Ron Burkle, Biden all but predicted that she’s go up against a well-financed challenger, in this case Carly Fiorina. Since then, he and President Obama have followed that up with several other trips on her behalf.
Speaking of the environment when he and Obama took office, Biden said, “We knew if acted decisively we could lay down the foundation for a new economy, but we knew something else. We knew we needed allies. We knew we needed people with some steel in their spine. … In moments of great crisis, people know they need change, but they fear it even more. There’s such a sense of uncertainty. We knew we had to have people that would put their self interest behind the national interest. And that’s why we knew – not a joke –we had to turn to Barbara in the Senate.”
Biden spoke on a stage before a crowd of about 150 people on the back lawn of the Rothman’s home. Among those who attended the $1,500-per-person event, according to a source, were Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, Cameron Crowe, Jon Landau, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Oliver Stone, Billy Zane and Ari Emanuel. Also present were Reps. Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff and Boxer’s finance chair Sim Farar. The event raised about $200,000 for Boxer’s campaign.
As Boxer faces a challenger from the business world, a portion of Biden’s remarks were directed at dispelling the any notion that she’s less equipped to address jobs.
“Barbara knows that the private sector is the ultimate answer our problems and she’s helping us plant the seeds to allow our best most competitive companies to grow, and grow right here in the Golden State,” he said.
For her part, Boxer was highly critical of Fiorina’s tenure at Hewlett Packard, calling her actions “heartless.”
“Before Carly Fiorina was fired as the CEO of Hewlett Packard, she laid off 30,000 workers—now there are some cities in California that are far smaller than that—she laid off 30,000 American workers, mostly Californians, sent jobs to China and during that period of time she made a fortune for herself,” Boxer said. “When she is asked about this, her response is: ‘I did what any family would do in tough times.’ Well when’s the last time you sent your kid off to China and then, when you did that, cashed in her savings bonds and then took it for yourself? That’s not right.”
“She is running on her record at HP—O.K.?—and that’s why I take the time to mention these things,” Boxer continued. “And for the life of me I don’t understand how that qualifies you for the United States Senate when you were fired.”
She also criticized what she called Fiorina’s “drill, baby, drill” stance on offshore oil drilling, noting how important the California coastline was to tourism, jobs and the economy.
Rothman himself went on the attack in introducing Boxer and Biden, saying that it was a “scary thought” to think of Fiorina in Boxer’s seat on the foreign relations and environment and public works committees.
“I’m sorry to offend my tribe,” he said, “but running a company and making sound legislative policy are not the same tasks and certainly not when the CEO involved has a deficit of common caring and common sense.”
With polls show the race neck and neck, Fiorina may be the strongest challenge to Boxer since she was first elected in 1992. Boxer said Hillary Clinton recently told her: “’You always give us a heart attack every single time you run, well why should this be any different? Just get ready.’ But what’s important is we have a rhythm and we have a pace. And we are ready to do this.”
Update: Julie Soderlund, spokeswoman for Fiorina, provides this response: “Barbara Boxer is working overtime to deflect the discussion in this race from her record of failure over the last three decades she’s been in Washington by distorting the facts about Carly’s record of accomplishment in business and proven commonsense leadership style. There is one job that Barbara Boxer is interested in saving: her own. The fact is that Carly Fiorina is the only candidate in this race who has actually created a job, met a payroll or had to make the difficult choices that come along with managing a technology company through the dot com bust. Barbara Boxer on the other hand has failed the people of California; our unemployment rate has skyrocketed to over 12 percent since she promised 400,000 more jobs to the state.”
Here’s a clip from Biden’s “Tonight” appearance.