AFL-CIO chief to assail candidates Whitman and Fiorina as 'clueless CEOs'

California Republicans' candidates for Senate and governor are just a pair of "clueless CEOs," AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka is set to charge Friday.

Trumka will take to the steps of City Hall in Los Angeles for a rally against Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and GOP candidate for governor, and Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO.

The union chief is set to assail Republicans over their jobs effort during the afternoon speech, ramping up his rhetoric against Whitman and Fiorina as the pair climb in the polls.

"So in the elections for governor and senator, who do the Republicans throw at the problem? Two clueless CEOs: Meg Whitman, who was too shady even for the board of Goldman Sachs; and Carly Fiorina, who laid off 30,000 Hewlett-Packard employees, shipped jobs overseas, got fired — with a $20-plus million golden parachute — and was labeled one of the worst CEOs of all time," Trumka will say.

Both Republicans are locked in close races in the state, a win in which would be one of the biggest harbingers of GOP success in the fall's elections.

Forty-four percent of Californians said in a SurveyUSA poll that they'd vote for Whitman if the election were held today, compared to 43 percent who favored former Gov. and state Attorney General Jerry Brown (D).

The same poll found 47 percent of state voters favoring Fiorina, while 42 would favor incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). The poll, conducted Aug. 9-11, has a 4.1 percent margin of error.

Trumka will link Boxer's reelection and support for Brown to his union's job agenda, accusing the two Republicans of being well in line with their party's other stances on legislation important to the AFL-CIO.

"Queen Meg? She’s not what we need on the throne of the biggest state in the country," he'll say. "And how about Carly Fiorina — who calls offshoring jobs "right-shoring"? She actually said that."

A spokesman for Senate Republicans shot back at the union chief:

"Under Barbara Boxer's watch, California's unemployment stands at 12.4 percent, with more families working harder and saving less. Not surprisingly, you won't hear labor union bosses in Washington talk about that, though, because they're more concerned about perserving their own power and backroom access than they are with moving America forward. I only hope that when he's writing that campaign check payoff to Barbara Boxer tomorrow, Richard Trumka remembers to call her 'Senator' and not 'Ma'am.' She's a little particular about that," said Brian Walsh, the communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).


A spokesman for Republicans' gubernatorial campaign committee did not respond to an e-mail Thursday evening seeking comment.

Still, Trumka's sharp words reflect the high stakes in the race. Republicans in the Senate need to run the table in this fall's Senate races — most especially the California race — if they're to have any chance of winning back the majority in the upper chamber. Winning California's governorship, meanwhile, would ostensibly keep the seat in the GOP's control, since Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is term-limited. But many state Republicans have grown disaffected with the movie star-turned-governor, and a Whitman victory could give them the chance to put a more discernible stamp on state politics.

Trumka said organizing with unions would be one of the best ways to ensure Fiorina's and Whitman's defeat this fall.

"[L]et me tell you why: Because if we win these elections on Nov. 2, it’ll strengthen us to fight on Nov. 3, and the next day, and the day after that, for the jobs we need," he'll say. "Nobody’s going to hand them to us. And people who want better have to understand: If California and America are going to create new jobs with rising wages, stable benefits and promising futures, we've got to work for it."

Updated 7:01 a.m.