"That's a typical political question."
Such was the response Sunday to Fox News anchor Chris Wallace when the candidate for United States Senate was asked to specify one department or program in the federal government that she would cut.
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A political question? Sounded more like a policy probe to me. It wasn't a great moment for the Republican candidate (on a network that is supposed to be more sympathetic to her party than that of her opponent). If you argue that there is terrible waste and fraud on the federal level than I would think it would make sense that at some point somebody is going to ask you to be specific. The federal government is a huge target.... there must be something that would come to mind
But getting pinned on Fox isn't Fiorina's biggest problem. While the rest of the nation appears ready to turn the House of Representatives over to the GOP and the Democrats are still in a fight to keep the majority in the Senate, Fiorina is still trailing incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. And part of the problem may be that Boxer, who has long been adept at political campaigns, is getting a message across that Fiorina has yet to answer. It is tough to be in favor of job creation when you were responsible for sending them overseas.
That of course is what Fiorina did while head of high tech giant Hewlett Packard. Boxer has taken full advantage of that with a hard hitting attack ad which continues to run statewide. Boxer uses Fiorina's own words to point to the former CEO's decision to move work overseas. Boxer's tag line... as it has been throughout the campaign... has been "I want to see 'made in America' stamped on our products".
For some reason Fiorina has not been very good at responding to that attack. During their lone face-to-face debate she seemed to semi apologize for having to make the "very difficult move" of outsourcing some of HP's work. She has yet to address that attack ad head-on with one of her own.
Fiorina now says that anti-business policies at the federal level were in large part responsible for her action to send jobs overseas, policies she argues Boxer helped put in place. But we haven't heard anything like that in her commercials. Nor does she make the argument that as head of a huge company she had a responsibility to keep it healthy so that thousands of other HP workers would keep their jobs.... and survive the downturn in hi-tech so that more could be hired later. Remember that in the private sector a firm must provide a good or a service that the public willingly buys... while government simply takes money in taxes. Such might make for a compelling counter punch to her rival but thus far we haven't seen it.
The race is sort of tight...anywhere between 1 and 8 percentage point lead for Boxer. If Fiorina is to have a chance she is going to need to be more up front on what she's done.... and what she'll do. Otherwise she will become another notch in Barbara Boxer's political belt.