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The Boxer-Fiorina Debate

The first debate between Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and her challenger Carly Fiorina was just what you would expect: Relentless attacks on each other’s records.

If there was any surprise, it was that Fiorina, in agreement with Boxer, supports the DREAM Act, which offers a path to citizenship for children of whose undocumented parents brought them into the United States. 

Neither candidate seemed that comfortable in the setting, and I’m not sure if they scored many points with undecided voters in boosting their likability. They each meandered from the question at hand, and Boxer in particular struggled to make points within the 90-second time constraints. She also was on the defensive in talking about her accomplishments, often referring to the names of bills in a laundry list rather than explaining their results.

Where she was good was putting Fiorina on the defensive, never missing an opportunity to point out that she outsourced jobs while CEO of Hewlett Packard and that she ultimately was fired from the company. When Fiorina protested that her attacks were also attacks on the ingenuity of the company’s employees, Boxer said that it was Fiorina who was running on her record at the company and therefore it was fair game.

Fiorina also was put on the spot when it came to Proposition 23, the measure that would rollback California’s climate change legislation. Although Fiorina was critical of the legislation, she said she had not taken a position on the proposition. “Well if you can’t take a stand on Prop. 23, I don’t know what you will
take a stand on,” Boxer said.

Fiorina was most effective at targeting Boxer for her embrace of the stimulus bill, noting that the unemployment rate in the state had increased since it was implemented. In fact, I thought that she would bring up the Recovery Act even more than she did, but her attacks on Boxer ran the gamut from government spending to out-of-touch liberalism to job-killing bureaucrat.

Here’s a clip from a question posed to Fiorina on Proposition 8.

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