Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina touted her rise from secretary to chief executive Tuesday as she courted business leaders in Columbia.
"I typed and filed, by the way, because I graduated with a degree in medieval history and philosophy. All dressed up and nowhere to go," Fiorina joked to a gathering of S.C. Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
“It is only in this nation that a young woman can start that way ... and go on, one day, to become the chief executive of what we turned into the largest technology company in the world, and run for the presidency of the United States.”
Later, in response to a question, Fiorina differentiated herself from GOP frontrunner Donald Trump – who, like the former Hewlett Packard CEO, says his business chops and status as a political outsider make him the best candidate.
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“Only in America can you start from nothing and build to something,” Fiorina said. "Donald Trump didn't start from nothing.
“Donald Trump inherited hundreds of millions of dollars, and Donald Trump has used government to further his own ambitions, whether it's eminent domain or $40 million in taxpayer funding for his latest hotel in Washington, D.C.”
Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks responded, “Mr. Trump inherited very little, started out with a small loan and built it into an over $10 billion dollar net worth enterprise.”
Trump’s small loan, given to him by his father, was $1 million, according to news reports. Trump later inherited the family business, worth many millions more. Forbes magazine estimated Trump’s net worth at $4.5 billion in September.
Fiorina made two stops Tuesday in the Midlands as part of a three-day swing through South Carolina – her first campaign stops in the state since October.
On Monday, Fiorina told The Greenville News that Trump could not beat Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
“Donald Trump is the Democrat Party’s dream come true,” she said. “Just as I am Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare, Donald Trump is her dream come true.”
An average of recent national polls shows Clinton beating both Trump — by 4.4 percentage points — and Fiorina — by 1.8 percentage points.
Once on the heels of Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Fiorina peaked in the polls in September. Fiorina now registers in the single digits nationally and in South Carolina, which holds its GOP primary on Feb. 20.