Fiorina: McCain to focus on job creation

Economic advisor Carly Fiorina leaves her options open as potential running mate.

By , Staff Writer of The Christian Science Monitor

At a Monday morning breakfast with reporters, McCain campaign economic advisor Carly Fiorina was asked what her candidate would do for the economy that President Bush has not.

Ms. Fiorina, the former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett Packard, replied, "A focus on job creation. The American dream starts with a job. It is all about growing jobs."

So began a week in which both presidential campaigns plan to focus on the economy, a subject of growing concern to voters.

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The issue of job creation is especially sensitive for Sen. John McCain, given his party's control of the White House. The latest National Journal poll of Republican insiders in Washington said the two biggest vulnerabilities for Senator McCain were President Bush's unpopularity and the economy.

McCain began a speech in Denver on Monday noting that, "More than 400,000 people have lost their jobs since December, and the rate of new job creation has fallen sharply."

Acknowledging that gas and food prices are up dramatically, McCain stressed, "I have a plan to grow this economy, create more and better jobs, and get America moving again."

In prepared remarks he was expected to deliver Monday in Missouri, Sen. Barack Obama said McCain offers, "exactly what George Bush has done for the last eight years."

Fiorina defended last week's reorganization of the McCain campaign, the second in the space of a year. The move placed Steve Schmidt, a veteran of President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, in charge of day-to-day operations.

"What I think it says about John McCain is that he is prepared to make important, and in some cases difficult, personnel choices for the sake of efficiency and effectiveness," Fiorina said. "And I think that is what you want. And I also think it says that he is not going to let either personal relationships or personal rivalries get in the way of placing the best skills in the best positions."

The Obama campaign announced Monday that Senator Obama would accept the Democratic nomination in Denver's Invesco Field which seats 75,000 people, rather than at the much smaller Pepsi Center where the rest of the Democratic convention will be held. Fiorina downplayed concerns that McCain's acceptance speech the following week would be overshadowed by Obama's massive gathering.

"John McCain isn't going to go into a stadium and talk to 70,000 people. You all know that. It is not his personality," she said. "Barack Obama and John McCain are very different people. There is no need for John McCain to try and be more like Barack Obama. In fact, I think that would be a disastrous mistake. The one thing I know from my own experience in leading people, in communicating with people, is people do recognize and appreciate authenticity."

Her position at Hewlett Packard made Fiorina the first woman to run a Fortune 20 company and she has been mentioned as a possible running mate for McCain.

Asked whether a business person, who had not held a previous government job, would be an appropriate selection for vice president, she began with a disclaimer. "First let me say that John McCain is going to have a lot of highly qualified people to choose from," she said.

But the balance of Fiorina's response left her options open. "I've spent the last three-plus years getting involved in a variety of issues in a variety of government departments whether it is the Defense Department or the Central Intelligence Agency or the State Department. I would certainly not consider myself an expert on government. But what I can tell you is that all aspects of the federal government reach out to business people, not just myself, reach out to business people because there are some common elements in organizational challenges, there are some common elements in how you bring people together to make them more efficient and effective. And yes, I think there are things that government can borrow and learn from business."

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