Craig Barrett leaps to defence of Carly Fiorina

Ex-Intel CEO Craig Barrett has waded into the debate over Republican Senate wannabe Carly Fiorina's management of Hewlett Packard back in the days when she was a mere CEO of a $50 billion company.

As CEO, Fiorina axed some 30,000 workers from the computer firm, shipping many of their jobs out of the US to lower-cost locations abroad, as she oversaw the acquisition of Compaq.

Fiorina now fancies herself as a politician and is engaged in a battle to oust Democratic Senator of California Barbara Boxer in elections to be held in November.

And Fiorina yesterday announced the backing of a group of 100 business figures which included Intel CEOs past and present in the shape of Craig Barrett and Paul Otellini.

To mark the occasion, Barrett sang Fiorina's praises, claiming she'd made the right decisions at HP and saying she'd also had been right to force through the Compaq acquisition.

Barrett told reporters Fiorina's "actions to move jobs offshore or in fact to lay off people, were absolutely required to keep Hewlett-Packard in business," Barrett said. "And she really, I think, had no choice. She had to have this stiff back and to take those actions to preserve the enterprise."

The businessman was reacting to criticism levelled at Fiorina by Boxer's campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski who had said in a statement: "As CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina made a choice to lay off thousands of workers while she shipped jobs overseas and took huge bonuses and perks for herself."

Fiorina was finally ousted from HP herself in 2005, having spent six years at the firm. She was handed a package worth some $21 million to take away with her.

But Barrett defended her record. "I think history will show or is showing Carly made the right decisions while she was there," he said. "She kept HP at the leadership of the printer business, fully expanded their capability in the computer and server and enterprise side of their business, absolutely positioning HP for what it is today."

Recently, another ex-Intel boss, Andy Grove warned of the bleak future for jobs in the US following years of outsourcing and reliance on technology start-ups, "...Job creation must be the No. 1 objective of state economic policy, Grove said.

"Long term, we need a job-centric economic theory - and job-centric political leadership - to guide our plans and actions." He said.

Not something we can imagine hearing Fiorina saying.