Joe Garofoli and Carla Marinucci
Chronicle Political Writers
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who has been trying to appeal to conservatives in a tough, three-way primary race, said Friday that one of the senators she admires most is a Democrat: California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“Sen. Feinstein has been a fine senator for the state of California, and has accomplished a great deal. I would describe her as a pragmatic problem-solver,” Fiorina told Chronicle reporters and editors during an interview with the newspaper’s editorial board. “I admire her, I respect her. I like her. I think and I hope she would say the same about me.”
Asked to cite senators she admired, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and first-time candidate mentioned Feinstein, for her practical approach to issues such as California’s water crisis, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. In 2008, Fiorina served as a top economic adviser to McCain’s presidential campaign.
It was an unusual nod to the opposing party during a hard-fought race to the June 8 primary, in which the Republican candidates are tacking right on issues from climate change to health care reform. California’s independent voters are expected to cast the swing votes in the November elections.
In surveys taken last month by the Field Poll and the Public Policy Institute of California, Fiorina and former South Bay Rep. Tom Campbell were in a statistical dead heat when matched against incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who has been losing support in early polls.
Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, trailed Boxer 44 to 41 percent in the Field Poll, but in the primary lagged well behind his two Republican opponents in both surveys.
In a wide-ranging interview Friday, Fiorina also explained her opposition to abortion rights in the most personal way since her campaign officially started last fall.
“I myself was not able to have children of my own, and so I know what a precious gift life is,” Fiorina said. She helped raised two stepchildren, the daughters of her second husband, Frank Fiorina. One, Lori Ann Fiorina, 35, died last year.
“My husband’s mother was told to abort him,” Fiorina said. “She spent a year in the hospital after his birth. My husband is the joy of her life, and he is the rock of my life. So those experiences have shaped my view.
“I recognize that a lot of women disagree with me on that,” Fiorina said. “But I also know that women in general are not single-issue voters. When I talk to women on this, it’s not the issue that is on the table in this election.”
The issues, she said, are “jobs, out-of-control spending, are we going to educate all of our children or not, are we going to provide health care.”
Should Fiorina survive the Republican primary against Campbell (who supports abortion rights) and DeVore (who opposes them), Fiorina expects Boxer’s campaign and other liberal groups to try to make her abortion stance a major issue. Boxer supports abortion rights.
Two-thirds of the California voters who responded to a 2009 Public Policy Institute of California survey said they did not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which established a woman’s right to an abortion.
Fiorina said abortion rights would not be her litmus test for approving a Supreme Court nominee.
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