10:00 PM PDT on Monday, October 18, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina touted her job-creation plan Monday at a shuttered San Bernardino car dealership and slammed Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer for failing to work harder to stem rising unemployment.

“This election is about her record,” Fiorina said in the former showroom of the closed Mitsubishi dealer. “This election is about jobs.”

Fiorina and Boxer, D-Calif., are entering the final two weeks before Election Day on Nov. 2. Both campaigns are crisscrossing the state and pulling out high-profile supporters as they make their appeals to voters.

Last weekend in San Diego, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., endorsed Fiorina, and President Barack Obama is set to campaign for Boxer in Los Angeles this week. The president also is featured in a radio ad that the Boxer campaign launched Monday.

At the former Mitsubishi dealership, brochures still filled some racks and a few car accessories hung near the old cashier’s window. But the showroom and parking lot were empty.

Owner Mike Graeber, a Fiorina supporter, opened the business in 1986 and closed it in July 2009. It was one of more than a dozen auto dealerships to shut down in the San Bernardino area in recent years. He once employed 50 people and had $30 million in sales, he said.

“I want to welcome you to my nightmare here,” Graeber said. “I think I am a perfect example of what’s happened to our economy, especially in the Inland Empire.”

Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, called small businesses like Graeber’s the “heart of our economy.”

“I know those are hard stories to share, because you love your businesses, you love your employees, you love your community, and it is devastating to see what is going on,” Fiorina said.

She said the 2009 federal economic stimulus, supported by Boxer, has failed to create jobs and help Inland-area businesses.

Unemployment in San Bernardino County increased from 11.7 percent when the stimulus package was signed into law to 14.2 percent in August 2010, she said.

To create jobs, Fiorina called for extending Bush-era tax cuts and permanently abolishing the so-called death tax.

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