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Independent group takes on Fiorina's ties to Palin and 'tea party' groups

July 22, 2010 |  7:41 pm

In 2008, the Culver City-based Brave New Films used viral videos to take on then-presidential candidate John McCain’s health, his numerous homes and his shifting rhetoric. The company’s new target is Republican U.S.  Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who is locked in a tight race with Sen. Barbara Boxer(D-Calif).

In one of the first independent expenditures of the general election campaign, Brave New Films has released a viral video that plays up Fiorina’s association with “tea party” groups in California and shows an image of her face morphing into that of Sarah Palin, who gave Fiorina a boost by endorsing her during the hard-fought Republican primary.

“The Real Carly!” the video’s graphic blares as the ad shows footage of Palin ticking off the reasons she endorsed Fiorina — “She’s pro-life, she’s pro-2 nd amendment, she’s anti-big government, anti-tax, she’s pro-development,” Palin says — as the former Alaska governor’s face dissolves into a head shot of Fiorina.

With dramatic Andrew Lloyd Webber-style music raging in the background, the two-minute video turns to footage of individuals shouting at the camera and describing President Obama as a communist, in what is described onscreen as footage from a tea party rally in March.

Those images are followed by clips described onscreen as Fiorina’s speech at the Pleasanton Tea Party’s tax day rally in April, as well as what appears to be her remarks to reporters at the event, which are provided without context. “These folks are making a huge difference in the political dialogue in this country,” Fiorina is shown telling the press, “and good for them.”

The video then flashes through a series of anti-government, anti-Obama signs at unidentified venues before cutting back to a Pleasanton clip of Fiorina. Though the question posed to the candidate is not included, Fiorina appears to be describing the audience as “hardworking Americans who care enough to come out and get politically active and express their views.” Images of angry fist-shakers are interspersed with her words.

Fiorina’s spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the video was intended to mislead viewers.

“Sadly for Barbara Boxer, her extreme left-wing supporters have nothing positive or worthwhile to promote in her own record, so instead resort to extremely deceitful and misleading clips spliced together from events where Carly was not present and did not even happen in California,” Saul said. “Voters are smart enough to determine the difference between baseless propaganda and real information.”

Brave New Films’ founder and director Robert Greenwald said his researchers gleaned the video footage from what was available online. That makes it virtually impossible to determine the origin of the footage.

While Fiorina made some efforts to woo tea party voters, especially toward the end of the primary campaign, she never went to the same lengths as one of her rivals, Chuck DeVore, who spoke to about 60 tea party groups as he wrestled Fiorina for conservative votes.

Brave New Films’ communications director said the group had raised $20,000 so far for a series of Fiorina Web videos, which it plans to push through YouTube and social networking sites. Although Greenwald has worked with labor unions in the past, he said they have not contributed to the Fiorina effort to date. The group has not identified its contributors.

Greenwald said the video series will focus on Fiorina’s stands on abortion and immigration and her record as chief executive of Hewlett Packard. He said he had dispensed with the conventional wisdom that these campaign broadsides should wait until voters are paying more attention this fall. 

“We actually believe exactly the opposite, that as with our McCain work, it’s important to go out early and educate people about Carly — create the frame, if you will,” Greenwald said, adding that past efforts to get the videos out through social network and other websites has “actually been much more impactful than TV commercials.”

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles

Twitter: LATimesReston