Fiorina defends attacks on Clinton marriage: ‘I think it’s all fair game’

Updated

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina on Friday refused to walk back her personal critiques of the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, arguing “everything’s an issue” when you run for the White House.

“Bill and Hillary Clinton have craved power their entire lives. Their entire lives have been about amassing power,” Fiorina said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Pressed further on why she dragged the Clintons’ personal lives into Thursday’s Republican undercard debate by The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, the former Hewlett-Packard chief said, “Well, I guess I would say that if my husband had done some of the things Bill Clinton had done I would have left a long time ago.”

“Leaders need to be trusted and they can’t be trusted if they don’t know you,” Fiorina added. “I think it’s all fair game.”

WATCH: Carly Fiorina says GOP debate was a ‘nasty fight’

Fiorina scored a big applause line Thursday night when she claimed “unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.” The quip appeared to contradict statements she made just last fall, when she pledged that she wouldn’t make “personal attacks” on Hillary Clinton in a September People magazine interview. “I feel empathy with every woman who is working really hard and giving it all they’ve got – and Hillary is,” Fiorina said at the time. “She’s smart, she’s hardworking, she’s giving it all she’s got.” 

But the GOP candidate’s rhetoric against Clinton has often been some of the harshest of all the 2016 contenders. She has repeatedly called Clinton a “liar” with regards to her public statements on the 2012 U.S. embassy attack in Benghazi, she had said the former secretary of sate is “only qualified for the big house,” and joked that she has “escaped prosecution more times than El Chapo.” Earlier in the campaign, Fiorina argued that Clinton could not “name one accomplishment” in her career and said she “doesn’t know what leadership means.” 

RELATED: Carly Fiorina takes jabs at Hillary Clinton

But Fiorina is not the first GOP presidential candidate to raise the specter of the Clintons’ personal history as a campaign issue. Republican front-runner Donald Trump has repeatedly alluded to Bill Clinton’s alleged infidelities and even linked the former first couple to embattled comedian Bill Cosby, who has been been labeled a rapist and sexual predator by dozens of women in recent months.

The Clintons have tried to take the high ground. Bill Clinton told NBC News on Jan. 7, “I don’t have a response. If [Trump] wins the Republican nomination, we’ll have plenty of time to talk about it if Hillary wins.” And Hillary Clinton, who has called her husband a “not-so-secret weapon” for her campaign, told CBS News on Jan. 10: “If [Trump] wants to engage in personal attacks from the past, that’s his prerogative. I’m going to draw the distinctions between where I stand and where he stands.”

On a Thursday appearance on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” Hillary Clinton said Trump “is a lot more obsessed with me than I am with him.”

Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton

Fiorina defends attacks on Clinton marriage: 'I think it's all fair game'

Updated