Mitt Romney Offers Ill-Timed Praise For Meg Whitman

Romney Praises CEO Poised To Cut 30,000 Jobs

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney took some time, in an interview with National Review published Thursday, to praise Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman, who lost her 2010 bid to become governor of California. If Whitman, a Republican, had defeated Democrat Jerry Brown, Romney argued, California's finances wouldn’t be in such dire shape now and an $8.5 billion tax hike wouldn’t be on the table:

The governor [Brown] is taking them in the wrong direction. I wish Californians had elected Meg Whitman. She would have been more successful and explained to Californians the need to cut back on spending and eliminate unnecessary programs. There are other states that have very different records. I think it's interesting that the state with the highest or among the highest tax rates in the nation also has the worst or near the worst deficit.

Romney, like Whitman, has contended that his successful record in the private sector means he would know how to increase employment and balance the books while in high public office. But given all the talk of jobs losses and offshoring in this campaign, his praise for former eBay CEO Whitman's cost-cutting chops came at a less-than-fortuitous time. The same day Romney's National Review interview ran, The New York Times reported that Whitman plans on slashing at least 30,000 jobs at HP next week through layoffs and early retirement, while likely sparing its presumably cheaper work force in China:

The executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the company, said that H.P. would seek layoffs and voluntary retirements from across the company. The total could be as much as 10 percent of H.P.’s 324,000-person work force. China, which is one of H.P.'s highest growth areas, will probably be spared, as will its research and development efforts. Ms. Whitman, who became H.P.'s chief executive last September, "is trying to build a new company," one senior executive said of the job cuts. "You can count this as a part of that."

Now lagging behind many of its tech competitors, Hewlett-Packard had net earnings of $7.1 billion last year, according to the Times.

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