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Fiorina plays the gadfly, needling Clinton and getting press

Republican Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks at the Republican National Committee's spring meeting Wednesday, May 13, 2015, at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina says it's a coincidence that she was in South Carolina on the same day as Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But it was no accident that the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive decided to make herself available to reporters Wednesday outside a downtown Marriott, where legislators, Clinton supporters and the press were gathered for a Clinton speech.

Despite intermittent rain showers, a barbecue smoker was going full blast turning out what a local tout called "smack-your-granny good" brisket and pulled pork. Somebody else was selling hot dogs, a guy was walking around yelling about Benghazi and Fiorina was doing a live hit on CNN -- which was right before her live hit across the street with anchor Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.

Clinton is Fiorina's foil and chief raison d'etre in the crowded Republican primary field. The only woman among the Republican candidates, she tells crowds that her business background makes her the more accomplished choice to become the first woman president.

And she is having a moment this week -- trying to capitalize on Clinton's frequent reluctance to take questions at her campaign events and on general press grumpiness. Clinton is avoiding questions about Iraq, her family foundation and her record at the State Department, Fiorina said Wednesday.

"The Republican Party needs a nominee who will ask these questions on a general debate stage" and answer them from reporters, Fiorina said outside the hotel.

"I hope the media will continue to ask these questions. I hope you're all very interested in asking me questions, and I appreciate very much the opportunity to answer your questions. I hope you will continue to be as aggressive with Mrs. Clinton wherever she is, on this street corner," Fiorina said.

Clinton took numerous questions at campaign stops in Iowa and New Hampshire last week, including on her Iraq war stance and foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation. She had declined to do so for weeks before that, including at a campaign stop in Nevada and elsewhere.