Sen. Barbara Boxer

By Steven Tavares

SAN FRANCISCO – On the eve of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s anticipated first debate with Republican nominee Carly Fiorina, the three-term senator spoke extensively about jobs–namely the ones she says her challenger sent overseas as CEO of HP.

Boxer made numerous references Tuesday afternoon at the Commonwealth Club of California to Fiorina’s tumultuous tenure at the legendary Silicon Valley company where critics charge she shipped thousands of jobs overseas during the early part of the decade.

With the state economy reeling and unemployment steady at over 11 percent in some Bay Area counties, Boxer is hoping to turn the conversation to the job market in advance of Wednesday night’s televised debate. With the election season nearing Labor Day, recent polls show very little distance between the two candidates.

In her opening remarks, though, Boxer conceded the economy is not growing as quickly as she would like. “The pace is too slow,” said Boxer, “I acknowledge that, but we simply cannot go back to the policies that got us into this mess.” She drew a distinction between her time in the senate under the administrations of Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, a trick many Democrats up for re-election this fall have failed to successful link in the mind of voters. “We know the policies that created a surplus and we know the policies that created deficits,” she said.

Boxer’s way out of the Great Recession lies within technology and infrastructure, she says. Included in her five-point plan is an emphasis on clean energy technologies which have sprouted in and around Silicon Valley and up north along the East Bay. Boxer also believes U.S. companies must take the lead in green tech before Asia and Europe pass us up. “Clean energy technology should be made in America.” she said, while also criticizing Proposition 23, which she says will send the message California is turning its back on the potentially game changing green tech industry.

During a wide-ranging question and answer period Boxer was asked her opinions on national issues such as immigration reform, the Islamic center and mosque in Manhattan, the rise of the Tea Party and the state’s proposition to legalize marijuana, but failed illuminate any of the subjects.

Boxer said most agree immigration reform is needed, but an answer for amnesty of over 11 million aliens must be addressed along with the role of employers. “We need to come to the center and write a bill that’s smart,” she said.

The rise of the sometimes discombobulated Tea Party movement is a welcomed voice in the political conversation, Boxer said, but called out some of the more angry aspects of the group that have become infamous. “I like when people get involved,” she said. “I don’t like people getting together with a divisive message.” A native New Yorker, Boxer said the issue of building a Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero is not for her to decide. “I’m not going to put my nose in it–it doesn’t belong there,” she said. On moral grounds, Boxer says she will not support California’s proposition to legalize marijuana and believes the state would not be better off if children have easier access to marijuana.

When a question of whether Boxer was worried about her chances for re-election was posed, she smiled and said, “I’m not worried; I’m excited.” and returned to Fiorina’s comments earlier in the campaign regarding her hairdo. “It’s not about the hair, it’s about real issues that matter.”