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Dianne Feinstein campaigns with Barbara Boxer, praising her 'spine of steel'

October 25, 2010 |  2:15 pm

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Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Dalif.) campaigned in Silicon Valley on Monday with the state's senior U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, who described her fellow lawmaker as an effective partner with "a spine of steel."

The two senators spent the morning at a solar panel manufacturing company in San Jose that has been able to expand its operations in part through $37.5 million in manufacturing tax credits and a $5-million loan backed by the federal stimulus program. Boxer and Feinstein praised the 112-employee company, which plans to expand to as many as 1,000 employees over the next five years, as an example of a powerful partnership between the private sector and government that would allow the U.S. to compete in the clean-energy sector with other nations. 

"We know that the whole world is going green, and there are very clear reasons for it," Boxer said after touring the manufacturing floor. "We must not settle for No. 2 when it comes to clean energy."

Boxer and Feinstein used the event at Stion Corp. to speak out against Proposition 23, the ballot initiative that would put the state's global-warming law on hold until unemployment drops to 5.5% for a full year -- something that has occurred only three times in the last three decades. Boxer noted that her Republican challenger, Carly Fiorina, is supporting the ballot measure: "Clean energy is on the ballot, not only in my race but a lot of other races," she said.

Feinstein argued that the two Texas-based oil companies backing Proposition 23 "really want to stop" the kind of manufacturing that goes on at companies such as Stion: "If you want to kill these new jobs, you pass Proposition 23, and the incentive to produce green power is diminished and abandoned."

The stop was the latest stimulus-focused event for Boxer, who has traveled around the state for months highlighting the jobs saved or created by the $814-billion federal program. Fiorina has lampooned the program as a waste of taxpayer funds; and shortly before Boxer's visit to Stion, Fiorina launched a new ad mocking Boxer for praising the stimulus plan "while 2.25 million Californians are unemployed."

Also Monday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced that it would spend $3 million to boost Fiorina's bid -- a development that Boxer aides said would mean Fiorina and her outside allies will probably outspend the three-term senator on television in the final week.

"They’re going to do some more ads that are outrageous and nasty, and we're just going to do what we're doing -- no matter what they throw," Boxer said. 

Feinstein questioned the effectiveness of the expenditure so close to election day, when the airwaves are already awash in political ads.

"It's like a blur; everything runs one into another," she said. "When you take the candidate ads and juxtapose them against the proposition ads, both local as well as statewide, I'm of the view that last-minute media, it doesn't do a lot of good."

Feinstein, who has served as Boxer's campaign chairwoman, said she was confident that her colleague had done everything necessary to win the race and said it would be "tragic" if she lost.

"In the United States Senate, much is accomplished on the basis of advocacy and seniority, and my friend and colleague Barbara Boxer is a 10 when it comes to both," Feinstein told reporters and Stion employees.

Noting Boxer’s leadership of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Feinstein said she had earned that spot on the basis of seniority and the ability to "manage the committee and produce. Barbara has done both, and she's done both extraordinarily well."

She added that they had been an "important team" for California.

"I take the lead on some subjects, Barbara's right there with me. She takes the lead on others, I'm right there with her," Feinstein said. "The result of it is that we've gotten things done for the people of California."

-- Maeve Reston in San Jose

Photo: The two U.S. senators from California today at a San Jose production facility. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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