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PK_FIORINA 0310.JPGRepublican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina received big-league backing Tuesday morning from some of the country's top business groups -- the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.

Fiorina, the former CEO of tech giant Hewlett-Packard, introduced her business friends at a brief event held at the Blue Diamond Growers facility in Sacramento where she spoke amid towering walls of boxes containing the company's Nut Thins snacks.

Fiorina's rival, Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, announced her own endorsement today from Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

Fiorina was scheduled to take her tour later today to Bakersfield and San Jose, bringing with her U.S. chamber Vice President for Political Affairs Bill Miller, the California chamber's President and CEO Allan Zaremberg and the California manufacturers association's President Jack Stewart.

In Sacramento, Miller wasted no time attacking Boxer.

"Barbara Boxer opposes almost every trade agreement that's come forward," Miller said. "She has opposed and stood in the way of important business pieces of legislation whether they relate to health care, to trade, to tax policy. The policies Barbara Boxer has articulated have made it harder to open businesses, keep businesses open, in California and everywhere else in America."

Fiorina continued the line of attack, slamming the federal government's stimulus package. While the package is commonly calculated to cost $787 billion, Fiorina set the price at more than $850 billion.

"We know that package is a failure, not a success," Fiorina said. "Why? Because in truth, we have destroyed more jobs since that package passed than we have created."

Fiorina said the government should instead be creating tax breaks and tax holidays for companies who want to locate to the state and said she would "use the power of the federal government to cut through the thicket of regulation that Barbra Boxer has always supported."

The Boxer campaign pointed out that the U.S. Chamber had backed the stimulus package when it was being considered by the U.S. Congress.

"Carly Fiorina has opposed every major jobs bill, including the Small Business Jobs Act to provide loans and tax breaks to companies that want to hire and grow," said Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski in a written statement.

"Fiorina opposes the bill to put 16,000 California teachers back in the classroom this fall. It's no surprise because Fiorina laid off 30,000 workers and shipped jobs overseas while taking perks for herself as CEO of Hewlett-Packard."

Boxer's campaign also sent out a press release touting Johnson's endorsement, with the point guard saying in the release, "Barbara Boxer is committed to creating California jobs, and is working to help businesses that want to hire. She understands the importance of increasing access to capital and providing tax breaks for small businesses so they can hire and grow."

When asked by a Bee reporter whether she believed the stimulus package hadn't produced any benefits, Fiorina said, "Certainly, I would hope that if we spent $852 billion, we would find a shred of positive impact somewhere, and of course we can. ... Since the stimulus bill passed, we have destroyed an additional 400,000 plus jobs."

When asked whether she would support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, Fiorina refused to take a position, instead saying the federal government should secure its borders and create an effective temporary worker program.

A pro-Fiorina independent expenditure committee called the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles backs such a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Its website states, "Carly Fiorina showed her resolve in support of common-sense immigration policies during the Republican primary and represents a real opportunity to pass a reform bill."

By early this afternoon, the partnership had not yet returned a phone message from The Bee seeking comment.

After the event, Miller said Boxer's seat was one of a dozen or so in the U.S. Senate that the chamber was focusing on this year. The chamber, which is the country's biggest lobbying organization, plans to spend $50 million to $75 million on U.S. Senate races, Miller said, and will run television advertising in California backing Fiorina.

Before the event, more than a dozen Fiorina supporters rallied on one side of C Street chanting "Boxer fails!" and other slogans while a slightly smaller group of anti-Fiorina protesters gathered on the other side of the street chanting, "Failed CEO" among other slogans.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Senate Republican candidate Carly Fiorina campaigns in Sacramento at Blue Diamond today. Joining her at the press conference are, left to right, California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg, California Manufacturers and Technology Association President Jack Stewart, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President and National Political Director Bill Miller, and Blue Diamond Growers Communications Director Susan Brauner. Paul Kitagaki Jr./ Sacramento Bee



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