Carly Fiorina insisted she was not stalking Hillary Clinton as they both visited Columbia on Wednesday.
The only Republican woman running for president in 2016, Fiorina told reporters that she planned her trip to South Carolina weeks before the Democratic frontrunner announced her Palmetto State campaign stops.
Still, Fiorina weighed in on Clinton.
At a news conference in front of the Main Street hotel where Clinton spoke later in the day, Fiorina made the point that she regularly answers questions from reporters unlike Clinton, who did not speak with the media Wednesday.
“How can we trust Mrs. Clinton?” the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive asked, calling Clinton a member of a “professional political class.”
Fiorina is trying to gain attention in a growing Republican field. Seven GOP candidates have announced 2016 bids. Another nine, including the two frontrunners in polls, have yet to join the race formally.
Fiorina said voters in South Carolina, an early presidential primary state laden with military bases and veterans, are interested in national security.
“People understand things are not going well in the world right now,” Fiorina said, after speaking with Republican state lawmakers. “I think South Carolinians have a very special place in their hearts for the military.”
Fiorina criticized Democratic President Barack Obama’s handling of Iran’s nuclear program and radical Islamic terrorists. She also touted her pro-life credentials, saying she thinks life begins at conception.
Despite improvement in the U.S. economy since the 2012 race, big problems remain, Fiorina said, particularly with what she characterized as the “crony capitalism” that hurts small businesses.
“Those are the things that keep us growing at 2 percent (a year) instead 3 or 4 percent,” she said. “We’re muddling along. But no one is feeling great about the economy. They’re just feeling like we’re out of a crisis. It’s hardly a victory.”
Still, mentions of Clinton were never far away when Fiorina spoke.
She said Clinton endangered the security of Israel by using a private email account while she was secretary of state. Fiorina also took a dig at the scandals of President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband.
Fiorina told S.C. GOP lawmakers that she was asked in New Hampshire: “Did I think that a woman’s hormones prevented her from serving in the Oval Office?”
“So ladies, this is a test: Can we think of any instance in which a man’s judgment might have been clouded by his hormones?”
That response drew a loud round of applause from lawmakers before Fiorina made her final pitch.
“Hillary Clinton must not be president of these United States, not because she’s a woman,” Fiorina said. “Hillary Clinton must not be president because she is not trustworthy and because she lacks a track record of leadership. ... I think what it takes (to be president) is someone who understands how the economy works and who understands how the world works.”