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Fiorina defends her tenure at HP

May 27, 2010 |  7:23 am

Carly Fiorina’s dramatic exit from Hewlett-Packard in 2005 was covered extensively by the media, and the former chief executive offered her side of the story in her memoirs. But as she campaigns for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination against two rivals, some voters say they are still trying to sort out what happened and how they feel about her dismissal.

One of them -- Craig Covello of Folsom -- took his chance to question her Wednesday night before an audience of several hundred people who gathered for a forum sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots of El Dorado Hills.

"Since you want to be a U.S. senator for California, which directly affects my life, why would I vote for you when I know what a snake pit it is in Washington and the political maneuvering that goes [on] there?" Covello asked. “You got bumped out of HP, and I’m sorry to be that direct about it ..."

"You’re really not offending me," Fiorina interrupted. "I got fired from HP, OK guys? It’s OK, you can say it."

"OK, I’ll say it," Covello, 53, continued. "You got fired from HP -- you were blindsided. What would lead me to believe that you have the leadership ability to be able to go to Washington and not get blindsided by half of the Senate?"

After a describing the argument that immediately preceded her firing, which was over board members leaking information about the board’s discussions to the media, Fiorina defended her tenure at HP, ticking off her accomplishments and noting that she led the company through the "dot-com" bust.

"I will run on that record all day long," Fiorina said. "And what you can take away is -- I do know something about politics. Believe it or not, you all, it exists in the real world too."

Fiorina’s explanation drew a hearty round of applause, but she didn’t satisfy Covello.

"She didn’t answer my question," he said, adding that he is leaning toward one of Fiorina’s rivals, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine.

-- Maeve Reston in El Dorado Hills