Fiorina Suggests California File Bankruptcy: ‘This State Can’t Pay Its Bills’

Modesto Bee/Newscom

California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett Packard chief executive, is under fire for suggesting bankruptcy should be a possibility for the cash-strapped state.

Fiorina’s rivals jumped on comments she made to local business leaders in the Southern California city of Colton as quoted by the Riverside Press-Enterprise: “Whether that is the right approach now, I don’t know. I think bankruptcy, as a possibility, at the very least focuses the mind on what has to be done to salvage a situation.” They attacked her as unprepared since states under federal law cannot declare bankruptcy.

She told the Sacramento Bee that she understands that “technicality.”

“Sure, I knew, but what cold comfort is that to all these California voters who may not know that technicality but who are sitting here knowing that by any common-sense definition, this state can’t pay its bills,” Fiorina told The Bee.Rivals say because she’s never held political office and has only been in the business world, she’s unqualified. Similar critiques have been leveled at former eBay chief Meg Whitman (R-CA), who is running for governor.

In her comments to The Bee, Fiorina added:

And in fact, the media has described California as bankrupt for months. So I find it interesting that the Democrats are saying legally, it’s not possible. Legally, it’s not possible. But the reality of where we are ought to be focusing people’s minds on what needs to be done.

Republican candidate Chuck DeVore went on the attack, with a spokesman telling the Los Angeles Times the comments are an example of Fiorina’s “unreadiness” to serve in elected office.

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said the candidate’s remarks “display her ignorance of California and the issues our state faces [and] also sends a message to voters that she’s giving up on the people of California.”

Fiorina made headlines earlier this month for her demon sheep ad attacking Republican candidate Tom Campbell as a false fiscal conservative.

The Republicans are competing to win the June primary nomination to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Late Update: Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund sends in her response:

It is unfortunate that Carly’s political opponents are trying to distort her comments about something as serious and consequential as California’s dire financial situation. Carly knows that that legally declaring bankruptcy isn’t an option for the state of California like it is for local governments. Her point is that the concept of the state not being able to pay its bills and meet its obligations – and the fact that people are using the word ‘bankrupt’ to describe California’s financial situation – should focus the mind on just how bad the state’s financial situation really is.