Carly Fiorina is capitalizing on simultaneous campaign swings through South Carolina with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMeghan McCain: 'SNL' parodies made me feel like 'laughing stock of the country' Hill: Trump reelection would spur 'one constitutional crisis after another' Trump defends indicted GOP congressman MORE to pan the Democratic front-runner’s tenuous relationship with the press.
The Republican presidential hopeful spoke to reporters outside the same hotel where Clinton planned to host a roundtable with minority women small-business owners less than two hours later.
She criticized Clinton as a career politician and hit her on foreign policy and equal pay.
“Hillary Clinton is the personification of the professional political class,” Fiorina said. “We need a nominee who can ask her these questions.”
Fiorina shrugged off the suggestion that she followed Clinton to the Palmetto State, asserting her trip had been planned for weeks around a luncheon with the state Republican Legislative Caucus.
“Perhaps she's following me. I have never been following Mrs. Clinton,” she said.
By shadowing Clinton’s event and welcoming reporters with open arms, Fiorina and her staff sought to create a contrast between the two female candidates.
Clinton’s been dogged by her lack of press availabilities; she recently went more than 27 days between taking questions from the press.
Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager, slammed the Clinton campaign as the “Hillary for America But Against Transparency campaign” in an email to reporters Tuesday.
“Our events tomorrow are all open to the press. And by open press, we mean we’ll actually take questions,” Flores said.
After answering reporters' questions for 10 minutes, Fiorina appeared on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Report,” where she praised Clinton as a “role model” for women but said that her recent record falls short.
“It’s also true that as secretary of State, she took women's rights and human rights off the table for discussion with China. It's also true as secretary of State that she called Bashar al-Assad a positive reformer,” she said of the Syrian president who is accused of using chemical weapons against his own people.
Fiorina accused Clinton of insufficiently addressing her role in the collapse in Iraq that has led to the rise of Islamic militants, and said she would provide more concrete help to Middle Eastern leaders in their fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
She also lamented, during both her availability and her MSNBC interview, the seniority system at the federal government that she believes holds women back from getting equal pay for equal work.
“A seniority system, which exists in the federal government, that allows a man to watch pornography all day long in the federal government and earn the same pay, pension, and benefits as a woman sitting next to him trying to do a good job, that is not equal pay for equal work,” she said on MSNBC.
“So before a federal government or Hillary Clinton — who by her own measures is not paying women equally in her own office, nor is President Obama — before they lecture others, maybe they ought to look into their own offices or look into the seniority system in the federal government."
These next few months are crucial for Fiorina as she fights to earn a spot in the first GOP debate in August. With the field expected to swell ahead of the Fox News debate, the network has said it will only include the top 10 candidates.
A debate snub could prove deadly for Fiorina’s campaign, because the national stage provides an important opportunity for candidates to connect with voters.
But while she’s currently polling outside of the top 10, she pushed back at Andrea Mitchell’s assertion that she won’t have the requisite support to debate in August.
“Why do you assume I'm going to be kept out?” she asked Mitchell on MSNBC.
“The debates are not for another 11 weeks. I'm actually glad to have a goal. I'm glad to have clarity about what it takes to get to that stage. And I will work very hard to meet the goal.”