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State Republican delegates see a new "bizarre" video, and hear another ex-CEO [Updated]

March 13, 2010 |  4:11 pm

Carly Fiorina unveiled her campaign’s newest strange video production, Hot Air, over lunch at the California Republican convention Saturday. The seven-minute extended commercial, posted below, follows the elongated head of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) crashing up through the U.S. Capitol dome and traveling west across the country and over California, rambling about electricity, taxes and a host of other issues.

The video was clearly an attempt to replicate the nationwide buzz generated by creator Fred Davis’ other production, Demon Sheep (skewering Fiorina’s Republican opponent Tom Campbell), earlier this election cycle. Davis' new video, while certainly weird, is not as organically off-kilter as Demon Sheep, but its introduction served to highlight the contrast between Fiorina and Meg Whitman, the other female Republican ex-CEO running statewide this year, who spoke in the same room the night before.

When Hot Air concluded, to moderate applause, the lights came up and there was Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett Packard, standing in the center of the room with a microphone, in a flaming red skirt suit. As she talked, she moved around in a small circle, raising her hand and gesturing, speaking fluidly, telling anecdotes about her work as a secretary and her bout with cancer, almost motivational in her delivery. At least three times, she encouraged her audience to applaud.

Whitman, the former head of EBay who is running for governor, is generally regarded as more successful than Fiorina and is wealthier (a billionaire vs. a multimillionaire), and her approach was far more conservative and less personal. Dressed in a black pantsuit Friday, she addressed Republican delegates from the front of the room, mostly standing in place and leaning slightly forward, and appeared as if she were reciting memorized lines. The response to her talk was polite; Fiorina’s crowd whooped and gave her standing ovations.

[Updated at 9:48 p.m.: Whitman had her lines on a teleprompter on the floor; Fiorina had notes.]

And where Fiorina’s fantastical short reflected a willingness to display some eccentricity in a tough primary battle against Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, Whitman’s purchasing of a television station at the Santa Clara Hyatt to loop a campaign commercial to delegates for 72 hours straight was indicative of the more machine-like approach of a campaign far ahead in the polls, spending freely to saturate the available airwaves.

Highlights of Fiorina’s speech:

On undergoing chemotherapy: “The big difference between Barbara Boxer’s Senate career and my hair is that my hair will grow longer.”

Highlighting her campaign’s criticism of Campbell’s support for Israel when he was in Congress, she said, “Israel is our friend. They are a strategic ally. They are our only democratic ally in a vitally important region and we must stand by them.”

Though she criticized Boxer’s record on spending, she did not approve of the senator’s criticism of a $7,000 coffee pot, because it was purchased for the military.

On Boxer: “Barbara Boxer may be mean-spirited, she may not be very well-liked, but she is a tough and determined campaigner, and the nation’s left wing brigades will descend on California to protect her seat …. Barbara Boxer pays two staffers to follow me to all public events. They are here today, rest assured. You know what I say? Bring ‘em on.” (ecstatic applause) “Bring ‘em on because I can take a punch. I‘ve taken a few punches in my life. But I can throw a punch as well.”

Boxer e-mailed a response to the Hot Air video from her campaign manager, Rose Kapolczynski: “Not even another bizarre video can distract voters from Fiorina’s record as a failed CEO who laid off 28,000 workers and shipped California jobs overseas. While Fiorina spends time producing works of fiction, Barbara Boxer is focused on creating good jobs in California and getting our economy back on track.”

-- Michael Rothfeld in Santa Clara