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California Senator Dianne Feinstein, right, was in town to show her support for Sen. Barbara Boxer after they toured solar panel maker, Stion Corporation in San Jose on Monday, Oct. 25, 2010. (Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News)

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in a candid off-camera moment just before the start of a campaign event for her colleague Barbara Boxer in San Jose on Monday, was greeted by a reporter who asked how things are going.

Her answer: "Bad."

"In the House?" pressed KTVU political editor Randy Shandobil. Feinstein didn't elaborate, but Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, spoke up to offer a more optimistic view of Democrats' chances on Nov. 2.

That more upbeat note -- that Republicans haven't won this election yet -- was the unified message that the three California Democrats delivered at a news conference after a tour of Stion, a solar panel maker in South San Jose.

"The pundits, the pollsters, the reporters have all decided that the Republicans are going to win everything," Boxer said. "And the vote hasn't taken place yet, you know, and so my own view is, let the people vote."

She added: "Whatever happens, whether we hang in there or we don't, we have work to do, and we're going to continue to do our work. And the priorities are three: jobs, jobs and jobs."

Feinstein spoke of the "technical expertise, legislative craftsmanship" and "historical knowledge" that Boxer brings to the table, compared to the campaign rhetoric of her challenger.

"Hyperbole doesn't write a bill, hyperbole doesn't run a committee, and hyperbole doesn't solve a problem," she said.

Added Lofgren: "I think the reports of our loss of the House are a bit premature, because every race is not about some global issue, it's between one candidate and another."

Boxer's appearance came as the National Republican Senatorial Committee said Monday morning it is spending another $3 million on TV ads for her opponent, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, in the final days of the campaign. The committee already has put $4.8 million into Fiorina's bid, an enormous investment in a state typically viewed as hostile to Republicans.

Boxer's campaign manager, Rose Kapolczynski, reacted to Fiorina's new cash infusion by writing in an e-mail to supporters: "That means, unless we can raise more, our campaign will be outspent on the airwaves by at least $1 million between now and Election Day -- and that puts everything at risk."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also is spending an undisclosed amount to boost Boxer's bid to hold on to her seat. The heavy involvement of both national parties is a sign that the race remains competitive, despite a Los Angeles Times/USC poll released Sunday that showed the senator with an eight-point lead. The Republican committee characterized the race as "neck-and-neck." Fiorina also felt good enough about her prospects to loan her campaign $1 million last week, on top of the $5.5 million she loaned it during the primary campaign.

Boxer, Feinstein and Lofgren were in San Jose to tour Stion, a solar energy company with 112 employees that was founded in 2006 and benefited from tax credits in the 2009 stimulus bill. The maker of solar photovoltaic cells aims to minimize the total installed cost of solar electricity while maximizing its efficiency.

"This company is going to grow good-paying, permanent jobs," said Feinstein, arguing that green energy is where the jobs of the future are.

Boxer and Feinstein strongly urged the defeat of Proposition 23, which would suspend state greenhouse gas limits until employment makes a lasting recovery -- and would be "disastrous" for companies like Stion, Boxer said. She called AB 32, the law that would be suspended, a "jobs creator" -- not, as Fiorina contends, a "jobs killer."

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Fiorina's campaign, responded by saying: "Barbara Boxer's insistence that the stimulus is creating jobs when more than 500,000 more Californians have been put out of work since it passed, on top of the fact that 70 percent of the taxpayer-funded wind tax credits in the so-called stimulus have been shipped to create jobs overseas show just how out of touch and ineffective Boxer's nearly three decades in Washington have been. Barbara Boxer is only interested in one job and one job only -- her own."

Walking to her car after the event, Feinstein was asked about her "bad" comment and said, "I think the prevailing view, and I don't think this is necessarily correct, is that it's a very difficult time, there's no question about that."

Boxer's last word to reporters required less hedging. Asked who would win the World Series, she thrust her fist in the air and shouted, "Giants!"

Mercury News staff writer Mike Zapler contributed to this report. Contact Karl Kahler at 408-920-5023.