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The Morning Line: The Clash in California

The Morning Lne

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican Carly Fiorina sparred Wednesday in an hour-long debate at St. Mary’s College in California that highlighted their stark differences on issues ranging from the economy and climate change to immigration and abortion.

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Much of the debate focused on the economy and illustrated the clear choice for voters between Boxer’s call for greater government intervention and Fiorina’s advocacy of a bevy of tax cuts that she said would give businesses more freedom to hire and expand.”

Boxer accused Fiorina of opposing legislation in the Senate that saved the jobs of more than 16,000 teachers. Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, said businesses must be “freed from strangling regulation and freed from taxation.”

Fiorinia also took direct aim at her Democratic opponent, who is seeking a fourth term in the Senate. “Barbara Boxer may say she is fighting for Californians but the truth is she is fighting hardest for another six years in Washington, D.C.,” said Fiorina.

Boxer, meanwhile, targeted Fiorina’s tenure at HP. “When she was CEO of Hewlett-Packard, before she was terminated actually, she shipped 30,000 jobs overseas,” said Boxer, before slamming the multi-million dollar severance package Fiorina received in 2005.

During a round of questioning about Proposition 23, a November ballot initiative that would suspend California’s 2006 climate change law until the state’s unemployment rate stays at or below 5.5 percent for a year, Fiorina said she had not yet taken a position on the matter. Boxer responded, “Well if you can’t take a stand on Prop. 23, I don’t know what you will take a stand on.”

On immigration, Fiorina said she supported giving children who are brought to the United States illegally by their parents and who have lived in the country most of their lives a path to legalization and a chance to pursue high education. Boxer called for comprehensive immigration reform, noting that Fiorina had called such legislation a “distraction.”

The debate also covered social issues like abortion, which provided one of the night’s sharpest exchanges, reports the Times.

“If my opponent’s views prevailed, women and doctors would be criminals, they would go to jail. Women would die, like they did before Roe v. Wade,” said Boxer, a fierce critic of restrictions on existing abortion rights.

Fiorina reiterated her support for overturning the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, but tried to turn the discussion back to the economy. “The most important issue right now in this election is the creation of jobs,” she said.

Based on an average of recent polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, Boxer currently has a narrow lead in the race, despite the significant advantage Democrats hold over Republicans in voter registration.

Wednesday’s debate was sponsored by KTVU-Channel 2, the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED public radio.

HOW MANY COMEBACKS DOES THIS KID HAVE?

A few months back, Bill Clinton bestowed his “comeback kid” title on Sen. Blanche Lincoln after she scored a come-from-behind primary victory over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. The former president is going to try to work his Arkansan magic one more time.

Lincoln’s campaign announced that Mr. Clinton will be campaigning with her in Little Rock next week to commemorate the one year anniversary of her becoming Agriculture Committee chairman. (An odd thing to celebrate in this anti-Washington campaign year, but Ag clout is still clearly something worth touting in Arkansas.)

However, those heady days in the aftermath of her primary victory in May are far behind. Lincoln is trailing Republican Rep. John Boozman significantly in the polls and is in a race that looks to be increasingly slipping away. Arkansas is a tough state for a Democrat in any year. This year, it may be near impossible.

But that won’t stop Mr. Clinton from attempting to jump start Lincoln’s fall campaign season back home. Keep your eyes on his campaign schedule later in the fall. Whether or not his visit on Sept. 8 is his final campaign stop for Lincoln will tell us a lot about where he sees the race heading on Nov. 2.

DUELING CHAIRMEN

The chairmen for the national Democratic and Republican parties are beginning to unveil their core messages, strategies and tactics as we prepare to enter the post-Labor Day crush of the midterm campaign season.

In an interview with the Hotline’s Reid Wilson, RNC Chairman Michael Steele talked up his plans to spend most of the fall on a bus tour. He’ll hit the 48 mainland states over the course of six weeks, fundraising along the way.

“‘In anticipation of the cynics out there, there’s a huge fundraising component to this trip that will help sponsor the bus, that will help pay for gas,’ Steele said, adding that he’ll be attending fundraisers for local and state parties and candidates along the way.”

Steele has been nothing if not controversial while at the helm of the Republican Party. The lackluster cash-on-hand totals at the RNC remains a clear signal to Republican candidates running in tight races across the country that the national party apparatus should not be counted upon as a major component in their strategies.

Facing a far more difficult task this cycle, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine plans to make the morning show rounds next week, as well as a Daily Show appearance. POLITICO’s Mike Allen takes a look at Kaine’s fall campaign kickoff.

“An aide said Kaine plans ‘the sharpest contrast that he has made to date on the direction the country would go if Republicans got back in charge.'”

And Allen reports that there will be some historical context to Kaine’s argument.

“‘He’ll make a strong case for what Democrats and President [Barack] Obama have done and make an analogy to how often Americans have turned to Democrats for heavy lifting in tough times,’ the aide said.

“Kaine will invoke President Franklin D. Roosevelt following President Herbert Hoover, President Bill Clinton taking office following a recession and 12 years of Republican rule, and President Harry Truman running against a Republican Congress.”

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