Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks to voters during a town hall meeting at the Ocean Reef Convention Center September 22, 2015 in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty

Carly Fiorina: ‘Clinton is a very smart, very hardworking woman’

Carly Fiorina doesn’t agree with Hillary Clinton, but she does admire some things about the former secretary of state.

“Hillary Clinton is a very smart, very hardworking woman. She has dedicated herself to public service, and I admire that about her,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO told the press in South Carolina Wednesday before emphasizing their political differences. “I also disagree with her profoundly on virtually every issue,” Fiorina said.

RELATED: Surging in polls, Carly Fiorina heads to South Carolina

The comments came in response to a question about Fiorina’s interview with People Magazinein which she also praised Clinton’s work ethic and intelligence.

All In with Chris Hayes, 9/21/15, 8:36 PM ET

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“I feel empathy with every woman who is working really hard and giving it all they’ve got – and Hillary is,” Fiorina told the magazine. “She’s smart, she’s hardworking, she’s giving it all she’s got.”

But Fiorina’s kind words for Clinton on Wednesday precipitated some characteristically harsh ones.

“She has lied about Benghazi and been lying about it since the day it happened. She’s lied about her emails. She’s lied about her server. And she does not have a track record of accomplishment,” Fiorina said.

More than a third of Republican voters say that Carly Fiorina performed best in last week’s debate on CNN, according to the latest NBC News online Meanwhile, Clinton’s lead over Bernie Sanders has dwindled from 24 points to just 13 points over the last month. 

Additional reporting by VAUGHN HILLYARD and HALLIE JACKSON

Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton

Carly Fiorina: 'Clinton is a very smart, very hardworking woman'