Carly Fiorina, former chief executive officer for Hewlett Packard, made her first stop in the Valley on Thursday as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Against a backdrop of wooden peach crates and among about 100 visitors at Wawona Farms in Clovis, Fiorina, 55, said she aims to send incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer into retirement a year from now.
She touted her experience as a business leader and government outsider as reasons she can make a difference in Washington, D.C.
Fiorina also described herself as being in line with the values of Valley voters because she is a fiscal conservative who believes that life begins at conception and that marriage is between a man and a woman.
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When Bill Smittcamp, owner of Wawona Farms, introduced Fiorina as a self-made woman, mother and grandmother, he stumbled over her name, which is still unfamiliar to many Californians.
Thursday was the second day of Fiorina's campaign.
Upon stepping in front of the audience, Fiorina apologized for her short hair and spoke of her recent bout with breast cancer and chemotherapy. She said she now has a clean bill of health and is "raring to go."
Fiorina said she would be a stronger advocate of government oversight against waste and fraud than Boxer, whom she criticized as having just three of her legislative bills passed in 17 years.
As a senator, Fiorina said, she will put more Americans to work.
"It's hard to feel optimistic when you don't know if you will have a job, or [if you have] lost a job," she said.
However, Boxer's campaign said Fiorina's stance on jobs is incongruous with her actions as HP's chief.
"I think she launched a negative attack to deflect questions about her own record," said Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer's Los Angeles-based campaign manager. "She laid off 28,000 Americans and shipped jobs overseas. I think California wants someone who will fight to create jobs, not ship them overseas."
Boxer, a Democrat, has been involved in more than 1,000 legislative initiatives, a campaign official said; the three bills Fiorina referred to were bills that were not amended by other legislators before passage.
Fiorina was named HP's chief in 1999. In February 2005, she was pushed out after battles with the company's board. Much of the major fallout occurred after she lobbied for HP to merge with Compaq.
Fiorina said many negative things are being said about her by both Boxer and her Republican opponent, Assembly Member Chuck DeVore, but the facts are "on her side."
Before taking on Boxer, Fiorina must defeat DeVore, R-Irvine, in the party primary. DeVore, like Fiorina, professes conservative values. He has served in the Assembly for five years.