Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina touted her business background and promoted her fiscal policies during an economic roundtable in Garner.

“There are only two ways to control debts and deficits: grow the economy and cut spending,” said Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. “The good news is if we cut spending the right way, we can grow the economy.”

Before the roundtable, Fiorina toured Stellar Industries, a Garner-based manufacturer of hydraulic trucks and trucking equipment. Stellar employs about 300 people, said David Zrostlik, the company’s president.

“That’s a large voting block when you think about 300 wage earners and their families,” he said. “I know they appreciate being heard.”

Fiorina was the first presidential candidate to visit Stellar, Zrostlik said.

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“This was a very unique opportunity for us and for Mrs. Fiorina,” he said. “She’s not a Washington politician, and I think she understands that our economy is driven by small businesses like Stellar.”

During a plant tour, Fiorina stopped regularly to chat with employees, fist-bumping a worker sanding equipment and shaking hands with a welder.

“She’s great,” said Steve Schnieders, Stellar’s operations manager. “She keeps pulling audibles to talk with people.”

Speaking to a group of employees and local businesspeople from the bed of a Stellar-built truck after the tour, Fiorina trumpeted her business acumen.

“I understand the economy,” she said, “and we need a leader who understands the economy.”

“We have to start (growing the economy) by recognizing where the engine of economic growth is and what it is,” she said. “It’s businesses like this, like Stellar. It’s small, family-owned, community-based businesses. … We got to lift that (governmental) weight and complexity so small businesses can form and prosper and grow.”

Fiorina also appeared at a town hall in Mason City where she discussed her plans to initiate zero-based budgeting in the federal government and reduce the tax burden by “lowering every rate and closing every loophole.”

“She’s right when she says that regular people can’t navigate the complexity of our government,” said Peggy Bennett, a Minnesota state representative who drove an hour to hear Fiorina. “Only the big and powerful can navigate the sort of complexity we have now, and that’s not right.”

Barbara Houland, chairwoman of the Cerro Gordo County GOP, agreed. Fiorina “is business savvy and supports simplifying our government. She knows how to spend money in a frugal way because the average American can’t keep writing checks every time the government needs a handout,” she said.

Fiorina was also scheduled to appear at a private fundraiser for Iowa Rep. Linda Upmeyer on Friday evening.

AT THE EVENT

SETTINGS: A large room at the Mason City library and the plant floor at Stellar Industries in Garner.

CROWDS: About 200 people packed into the library’s largest room; 30 employees and a dozen businesspeople at Stellar.

REACTIONS: At both stops the audience clapped and cheered regularly.

WHAT’S NEXT: Fiorina will speak at the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines on Sunday. She will speak at the Caucus Candidate Forum Series and The Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on Monday before a stop in Kimballton.