CA Sen: Fiorina Blames Latest Gaffe on Surgery – Lags Behind Boxer in Donations 12 to 1

Fiorina referring to her chemo-related hair loss at a campaign event last year
Fiorina referring to her chemo-related hair loss at a campaign event last year
The last anyone in California (or anyone anywhere else, probably) heard from the GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, she’d made a huge rookie blunder in memory. On the first day of the general election campaign, she was caught on video dissing the hairdo of her 69-year-old opponent, Sen. Barbara Boxer.

“God, what is with that hair?” Fiorina, 55, cackled, working her Blackberry and preening like a 14-year-old mean girl. “Sooo yesterday.”

That was the first week in June. Now, in mid-July, Fiorina is in the news again because of a gaffe. At a press conference in Clovis on Wednesday, Fiorina criticized Boxer for skipping the GOP-dominated San Joaquin Valley during a series of job-related events the week before.

“Last week Barbara Boxer was in California,” Fiorina said, during a brief press conference. “She did not bother to visit the Central Valley.”

Wrong. Boxer spent two days in the Central Valley as part of her jobs tour. She attended jobs-related events in Fresno on July 7 and Stockton on July 8.

As is its practice, the Fiorina team has not offered an apology, nor will one be forthcoming. (Carly still hasn’t apologized to the senator for the tacky comments about her hair.)

But no big whoop, right? I mean, sure, it’s a stupid mistake that could have been avoided by, say, tasking campaign operatives to keep track of Boxer’s schedule (as, you can bet, the pros on Boxer’s campaign are keeping up to the minute tabs on Fiorina’s activities) or by deploying an intern to check facts on that made-in-California world-of-wonder technology, the Google.

So why did Fiorina make such a silly, easily prevented mistake? Did she go overboard in her zeal to trash Boxer for anything and everything, true or not? Or, more likely, was she unaware that Fesno and Stockton are in the San Joaquin Valley? After all, the Central Valley is “flyover country” in California, and one of the things that made Fiorina notorious during her troubled tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard was the purchase of a corporate jet for her private use at the same time she laid off thousands of employees in California and shipped their jobs to China and India.

Or did Fiorina stumble because she’d seen campaign financials indicating that Boxer has done 12 times better in fundraising than she had? The fact that Fiorina has only banked $1 million, compared with Boxer’s $11.3 million, can only be interpreted as a vote of “no confidence” by the Republican Party establishment and its big donors.

Answer: None of the above. When pressed for an explanation, a campaign spokesperson said Fiorina was recovering from surgery and misspoke, apparently because she was not quite fully recovered. Fiorina underwent reconstructive surgery on June 30, as a result of the double mastectomies she underwent as part of her treatment for breast cancer last summer.

This is not the first time Fiorina and her campaign have played the “cancer card” during this election cycle. And while her frequent references to her diagnosis and treatment — she appeared at early campaign events last fall nearly bald from radiation treatments — certainly did not prevent her from winning the primary against two healthy and much more experienced men, it does prompt questions on both a personal, or rather “human” level, and from the perspective of politics.

On a human level, the natural impulse is to wish her well, and even admire her stamina, her determination to get into the fight so soon after such debilitating treatments — that’s certainly the narrative the campaign is aiming for. But it’s also puzzling because Fiorina has done a piss poor job conveying to voters what, other than her own self-aggrandizement, drives her to run for office so soon — too soon? — after her treatments. (She could have devoted more time to her recovery by waiting until 2012 to take on Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for example.)

What comes through loud and clear is that Carly Fiorina has a gut-level, personal loathing of Barbara Boxer. Other than that, she has offered voters nothing resembling a rationale for sending her to represent California in the Senate. She seems to treat campaigning as a nuisance — just something she must endure in order to gain admittance to the club.

In fact, Fiorina’s campaign rhetoric seems to have been ripped from the teleprompters at Fox News, and her performance appears to be directed as much to her prospective colleagues in the capitol as it is to voters in California. The signal she is sending is that, as senator, she would be a reliable, even robotic vote in support of Republican issues like tax cuts for her wealthy peers, never-ending war, pillaging the environment and preventing the government from regulating food, banking and energy while giving it tyrannical control of over women’s ovaries — despite the fact that none of these issues play well in California.

On a political level, the Fiorina campaign’s blaming her latest gaffe on her health not only sends a signal to voters that she might not be well, but it is also likely to add a new level of discomfit to would-be donors. Her rookie mistakes have already earned donors’ vote of no confidence. Now they’re likely watching her every move for signs she is also a risky investment because she may not be physically up to the job.

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