Apparently one of the most pressing issues in the California senatorial race is whether or not Sarah Palin is "too extreme." Good Morning America's Robin Roberts on Friday pressed Carly Fiorina twice on that issue, insisting on knowing why the former Alaska governor hasn't been campaigning for the Republican.
She demanded, "We know that Sarah Palin has visited California recently, but she was not campaigning for you. Why not Sarah Palin? Is she too extreme for you?" The co-host followed-up: "Down in Florida, Charlie Crist had an ad campaign saying Sarah Palin is just too extreme for some Republicans."
Barbara Boxer has not appeared on GMA during the 2010 campaign season, so there's been no opportunity for the show's host to grill the Senator on supporters such as director Rob Reiner, who recently compared the Tea Party to Nazis. [MP3 audio here.]
Video after the break.
Roberts also played a clip of Boxer attacking her Republican opponent, thus allowing the Democrat to essentially question Fiorina. The journalist introduced, "So, let's talk about your opponent, Barbara Boxer. We heard her on MSNBC. She said this about your track record as a CEO."
Fiorina's business background came under particular scrutiny: "You definitely bring a different skill set given your experience in the private sector. However, the $21 million severance package that you received, some people, they look at that as corporate excess."
A transcript of the October 29 segment, which aired at 7:10am EDT, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: South of you, a little bit calmer, Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate in California is back on the campaign trail. That's after spending two days in the hospital for an infection related to reconstructive surgery after her successful treatment for breast cancer. Late yesterday, I had a chance to sit down with her as she prepared for her final days of the campaign. You were out a day and you're hitting the campaign trail. You were out a day and you're hitting the campaign trail. How are you feeling today?
CARLY FIORINA: I've been so touched by so many people's concern, but I feel fantastic. I'm happy to be back out on the campaign trail and looking forward to the next few days.
ROBERTS: It's so grueling. Did doctors give you any special request or advice to you?
FIORINA: Well, you know, of course, they said try and take it easy, which is impossible, but, you know, I had an infection which is pretty common when you go through the kind of reconstructive surgery I went through. So I'm on antibiotics and they dealt very well with the infection and here we go.
ROBERTS: All right. So, let's get down to business. Senator McCain recently speaking out on your behalf and was very strong in what he said about Barbara Boxer saying in part that "she wanted to wave the white flag of surrender in every military conflict." Do you agree with that?
FIORINA: Well, I think Barbara Boxer's track record on military security is quite clear and consistent. She has voted against appropriations for the military on many, many occasions.
ROBERTS: So you don't feel that Senator McCain went too far?
FIORINA: I think when you've been a career politician for 34 years you have to run on your record.
ROBERTS: We know that Sarah Palin has visited California recently, but she was not campaigning for you. Why not Sarah Palin? Is she too extreme for you?
FIORINA: Well, I don't know why you're asking about her in particular. I mean there are many people who have endorsed me that I agree with on some things and not others.
ROBERTS: I guess the reason that Sarah Palin's name continues to come up is that she's been very powerful and she's been very helpful to a number of different candidates across the country. Down in Florida, Charlie Crist had an ad campaign saying Sarah Palin is just too extreme for some Republicans.
FIORINA: Well, I don't agree with Sarah Palin on everything. As I say, I don't agree with many folks on absolutely everything.
ROBERTS: So, let's talk about your opponent, Barbara Boxer. We heard her on MSNBC. She said this about your track record as a CEO.
BARBARA BOXER: She was the head of Hewlett-Packard and it's her chance to bring her experience to Washington. What she leaves out of it is that she was fired from that job after she brought the stock down by more than 50 percent. She laid off 30,000 workers, shipped their jobs to China, other places. She was also named one of the worst CEOs of all times by five different publications.
ROBERTS: Your response to that comment?
FIORINA: Barbara Boxer has spent millions of dollars personally attacking me so I'll just tick through a couple items. I've also been named the best CEO by many publications. I doubled the size of the company from $44 billion to #88 billion, creating many jobs in the process. Our stock, yes, was down because I managed through the dot com bust, the worst technology recession in 25 years, but our stock outperformed the Technology Peer Index by 23 percent. And may I just say, it is the height of hypocrisy for Barbara Boxer to criticize me for having to downsize or outsource jobs when she takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from campaign contributions who have done exactly the same.
ROBERTS: You definitely bring a different skill set given your experience in the private sector. However, the $21 million severance package that you received, some people, they look at that as corporate excess.
FIORINA: I really believe that all CEO pay should be voted on by shareholders ahead of time. Mine was. I also am shocked that Barbara Boxer has become a multi multimillionaire while she's been a senator. She voted herself a 40 percent pay increase. You can only do that in Washington, D.C. I started out typing and filing and answering the phones for a nine-person company. I remember what it was like to not know whether I was going to have enough money to make it through the month and I also know from that experience that we can't get this economy going again unless we help small businesses and family owned businesses because they are where the majority of Americans get their start.
ROBERTS: You're no stranger to public scrutiny but is there anything that has even surprised you in running for public office like this?
FIORINA: You know what surprised me honestly in a positive way, Robin, is the wonderful people you meet along the way. I mean, yes, politics is- it can be a full contact sport for sure and there are days when it gets pretty nasty out there. But, you know, I have met so many wonderful people along the way. I wouldn't trade a day of it, honestly.
ROBERTS: And she definitely wants to stay on message. Does not want the discussion to be anything about her health.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Not at all. She's trying for a comeback in these last four days.