On the heels of a marathon hearing related to the Benghazi attacks, Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina wasted no time bringing up the topic and presumptive Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton during a Sun City Hilton Head appearance on Friday.
Fiorina told the crowd of about 200 at Sun City's Magnolia Hall that, despite the "excellent efforts" of U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., during Thursday's hearing, it would be up to the Republican nominee to keep the pressure on Clinton and hold her accountable for the 2012 attacks that killed four Americans in Libya.
It's a role Fiorina said she's willing and able to fill, as she said she has taken "a lot of heat from the media" in recent weeks for continuing to assert Clinton lied about the Benghazi attacks. Repeating a statement she made earlier in the day on Good Morning America, Fiorina said Clinton needed to answer "a fundamental question" on why she did not call Benghazi a "purposeful terrorist attack."
Fiorina did express some empathy for Clinton, though. Both have been subjected to questions about whether a woman is fit to lead the country; Fiorina recently was asked how a woman's hormones would affect her ability to govern.
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Fiorina also talked briefly about her background and her motivations entering the presidential race. She called the government "too large and too corrupt" and said the political class making most of the decisions wants only to maintain the status quo.
Instead, she advocates cutting the size of the government and holding it more accountable. She specifically targeted the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which have made few changes despite recent scandals, she said.
"This election is not just about switching a D with an R," she said. "The system is broken. This election is about challenging that system."
Fiorina said she plans to hold weekly radio addresses and use smartphones and technology to connect with voters, polling them by asking them to press a number to vote for something such as holding the government accountable.
"If you have a flip phone, you'll have to upgrade to a smartphone," she said amid a round of laughter from the audience.
Briefly touching on foreign policy, Fiorina said she would make two calls on her first day in office: one to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say the U.S. stands with Israel and one to Iran to tell its officials a new nuclear deal is in order.
"They might not take my call," Fiorina said.
During the short round of questions after her speech, Fiorina also said she would not allow Syrian refugees to enter the country without learning more about them.
"If we don't know who these people are, we cannot let them in," she said.
She ended her speech by calling the presidential campaign a "fact-free zone" where candidates aren't held to task for inaccurate things they say. She did not address recent criticisms of her comments about Planned Parenthood made during last month's Republican debate.
Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, took several questions after her speech on a number of topics -- term limits for U.S. senators, Social Security and welfare reform, and energy policies. Fiorina said she would add a work requirement to welfare programs. "There is dignity in all work," she said to applause. She said the country would be an "energy powerhouse" under her leadership.
"We haven't stood up yet and said we're going to challenge the status quo," she said. "Citizens, it's time to take our country back."
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.
- Clinton confronts Republican critics at Benghazi hearing, Oct. 22, 2015