SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer came out swinging against her electoral challenger Tuesday, launching a two-day statewide campaign blitz with a job-creation success story and a blistering attack on her foe's record.
Boxer, D-Calif., started her "Jobs for California Tour" with a visit to the bustling, $1 billion Doyle Drive Replacement/Presidio Parkway construction project near the Golden Gate Bridge, for which ground was broken last year after the final $100 million came via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"Without this stimulus package, we're some of the people who wouldn't be working right now," said Jay Smith, a construction superintendent for contractor R&L Brosamer and Operating Engineers Local 3, praising Boxer for helping to secure this and other funding. "We're living proof that her work is helping out a lot of people."
Boxer said she'll keep fighting for such jobs, while Republican senatorial nominee and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina laid off almost 30,000 U.S. workers and sent their jobs overseas as her salary tripled, a record that's "disastrous at any time let alone these times."
"Carly Fiorina never fought for our families. She never tried to," Boxer said, adding that Fiorina has said she would have voted against the Recovery Act and the extension of unemployment benefits. "She's not for American jobs. She won't help the jobless."
Fiorina's campaign — which said the candidate underwent successful reconstructive surgery Tuesday following a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer last year — issued a memo noting that 2.27 million Californians remain unemployed.
"We think Boxer might want to consider renaming her swing through the Golden State the 'Broken Promises' tour," Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund wrote.
Boxer noted the Recovery Act has saved or created about 150,000 California jobs; Soderlund said that's still far short of what was promised, but "the point isn't just whether money has been spent; the issue is whether that money has created jobs and spurred sustainable, long-term economic recovery and growth. The answer is a resounding NO."
Not so, insisted those with Boxer on Tuesday. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, also the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, praised Boxer for years of leadership in making the Doyle Drive project happen.
"You don't have to go much further than right here to see the evidence — real jobs, real investment," he said, adding the project will create thousands of jobs before its projected 2013 completion.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission Executive Director Steve Heminger said "we've been talking about his project since she (Boxer) was a member of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District" many years ago, but "without a federal champion, it wasn't going to happen."
Boxer said she won't sugarcoat the economic situation — "I know it's tough" — but it's the result of years of misguided policy coming home to roost, and recovery will take time. Investing in clean energy industries and transportation infrastructure will create jobs and put California back on its feet, she said.
Boxer said she never heard Fiorina complain about deficit spending while the Bush administration was putting "two wars on a credit card" and giving tax breaks to the rich, yet now she complains that supporting the unemployed is too costly.
From San Francisco, Boxer was headed for cities including San Diego, Monterey and Palo Alto between Tuesday and today. Vice President Joe Biden, fresh off a visit to Iraq, is scheduled to join her Thursday for a fundraiser in Atherton.
Fiorina is expected to return to the campaign trail in a few days, members of her staff said.
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