One day after California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina left the hospital after being treated for an infection following reconstructive surgery, the breast cancer survivor thanked opponent Barbara Boxer for her well wishes but said the Democratic incumbent's record was one of failed policies.
In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts that aired today, Fiorina discussed a number of topics, among them an endorsement by Sarah Palin, her opponent's track record and her own leadership experience.
Fiorina, 56, said Boxer had a record of voting against military appropriations on "many, many occasions," including for funding that would have provided body armor, extended family leave and treatment for brain trauma and PTSD for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Calling the three-term senator a "career politician," Fiorina said Boxer also needed to be held accountable for policies which she said were contributing to losses in American manufacturing.
For her part, the 69-year-old Boxer has criticized Fiorina – the former Hewlett-Packard chief – as being a poor CEO who laid off more than 30,000 workers, brought company stock down and was fired.
Fiorina acknowledged that stock did fall but she managed the company through the dot com bust, which she called the worst technology recession in 25 years. She said she stood by her track record, adding that many jobs were created under her leadership.
Fiorina clashed with HP's board of directors and was forced out of her position in 2005.
The candidate called Boxer's criticism on downsizing or outsourcing jobs "the height of hypocrisy," noting that the incumbent had accepted campaign contributions from companies that also had outsourced jobs.
Fiorina said she was "shocked" that Boxer had become a multimillionaire while in the U.S. Senate, saying the senator had voted herself a "40 percent pay increase. You can only do that in Washington, D.C."
Although Fiorina's compensation package ran into millions of dollars, she said shareholders had to approve her pay. Fiorina, who said she started her career as a secretary, says she understands how the struggling economy directly affects small business owners.
"I remember what it was like to not know whether I was going to have enough money to make it through the month. I know what it was like to worry about every dime," she said. "I've never forgotten that experience and I won't."
Fiorina has been endorsed by a number of prominent Republican politicians, including Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Palin, too, has endorsed Fiorina, but during a recent visit to California, the former Alaska governor didn't campaign for the senate hopeful.
"A lot of people what to know – why not Sarah Palin? Is she too extreme for you?" Roberts said.
"Well, I don't know why you're asking about her in particular," Fiorina replied. "I mean, there are many people who have endorsed me that I agree with on some things and not others … ."
Fiorina said she stood for smaller government, job creation and strict controls upon government spending.
"I'll work with anyone who agrees with me on those issues," she said.
That kind of openness would be a welcome change to voters, she added.
"People are tired of the partisan bickering. They're tired of the ideological battles … I have a track record of being able to find common ground with people and get some problems solved," she said.
Fiorina said there were days when campaigning was rough but said she has been impressed by how concerned and engaged people have been.
"Yes, politics 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."
Fiorina underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy last year. She has said she is cancer-free.