Fiorina courts voters at Iranian-American Jewish gathering

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Carly Fiorina continued her efforts to court Jewish voters Sunday, telling an audience of Iranian American Jews that her recent journey to Israel had been “intense” and “life-changing” while calling on the U.S. to take a more aggressive stance against Iran’s president and the country’s nuclear program.

“We must stand unequivocally and declare that Israel is our most important friend and ally in the Middle East and that we will stand with her always, no matter what,” Fiorina said during a speech at a conference to promote civic engagement in the Iranian American Jewish community that was hosted by the nonpartisan group known as 30 Years After.


“We must be clear, and loud and unequivocal that we reject the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—that we will do what is necessary to prevent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from gaining a nuclear weapon, and we will do what is necessary as well to stand with the people in Iran who are bravely risking their lives to stand up and say ‘We do not agree with the direction of our nation,’ ” Fiorina said. [For the record: An earlier version of this post erred in quoting Fiorina as saying ‘equivocal,’ not ‘unequivocal.’]

Fiorina, who is vying to replace Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, was not explicit in her remarks about what actions the U.S. should take if, for example, Israel were to preemptively strike on Iran.

She also said the U.S. Senate had not acted quickly enough on legislation authorizing the president to enact unilateral sanctions against Iran: “The truth is we must do whatever is necessary to try and thwart that regime with or without the agreement of Russia, China and the United Nations.”

While Boxer has strong support in the Jewish community, Fiorina has tried to chip away at that advantage by arguing that Boxer should have been a more strident critic of Ahmadinejad.

Boxer has rejected Fiorina’s criticisms as baseless and characterized Fiorina’s call for stiffer sanctions on Iran as hypocritical since Fiorina led H-P at a time when a Dubai-based subsidiary of the company sold printers and other products to Iran, which is subject to a trade embargo.

While Boxer and one of Fiorina’s primary opponents have accused her of undermining the trade embargo, Fiorina has called the accusation that the company did something unlawful “false,” adding that H-P complied with every export law.

-- Maeve Reston in Century City