Businesswoman Carly Fiorina took a shot at GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE in Thursday’s early debate.

Fiorina criticized Trump for his connections with former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonRNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' Booker dismisses early surveys: 'If you're polling ahead right now, you should worry' Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump's economic approval takes hit in battleground states: poll This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I didn't get a phone call from Bill Clinton before I jumped in the race. Did any of you get a phone call from Bill Clinton? I didn't,” Fiorina said at the beginning of Thursday’s debate for candidates outside the GOP’s top 10.


She was referring to reports that Trump, who will be on stage during the prime-time GOP debate, spoke with Bill Clinton ahead of his campaign launch. 

“Maybe it's because I haven't given money to the foundation or donated to his wife's Senate campaign,” Fiorina added.

Trump spoke with Bill Clinton weeks before he launched his White House bid, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The former president reportedly urged Trump to play a larger role in Republican politics.

Hillary Clinton's communications director on Thursday denied that Bill Clinton offered Trump advice when the two spoke in May, suggesting that Trump's White House bid was his decision alone.

The celebrity real estate developer has since skyrocketed to the top of the GOP pack in recent polling.

Fiorina acknowledged Thursday evening that Trump has received support from those frustrated with politics.

“I think he's tapped into an anger that people feel. They're sick of politics as usual,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said. 

“Whatever your issue, your cause, the festering problem you hoped would be resolved, the political class has failed you,” added Fiorina, the only woman on stage for either debate.

Before Fiorina’s jab, one of the debate moderators questioned former Texas Gov. Rick Perry about whether Trump was “getting the better of him” in the race.

Perry replied that Trump’s celebrity “says a lot” about his poll numbers. He questioned whether the businessman is a true conservative, given some of his past positions. 

“How can you run for the Republican nomination and be for single-payer healthcare? I mean, I ask that with all due respect,” Perry said, referring to Trump’s past endorsement of the idea.

— This story was updated at 6:06 p.m.