It’s not a big secret that Carly Fiorina’s role in the 2016 presidential contest is to provide gender diversity in a huge field, and to relentlessly attack Hillary Clinton in a way that male candidates probably cannot do without looking a mite piggy. This is why nobody, but nobody, in the field or in conservative media is mentioning, much less mocking, her rather obvious lack of qualifications for the presidency, or to put it another way, her negative qualifications of high-stakes failure in both the business and political sectors.

But Fiorina really shouldn’t play this role in a way that makes it impossible to pretend she’s anything other than a designated stalker of the other party’s probable nominee. Yet she probably stepped over that line in South Carolina yesterday, as reported by the New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman:

Carly Fiorina spends a lot of her time as a Republican presidential candidate attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate, and has earned considerable news coverage for it. On Wednesday, with Mrs. Clinton set to give a speech at a South Carolina hotel, Ms. Fiorina arranged a news conference outside – for little reason, it seemed, other than to taunt her….

Ms. Fiorina quickly grew discomfited when the questions seemed to treat her more as a heckler pulling a stunt than as a formidable candidate making an otherwise significant campaign stop.

One reporter asked if Ms. Fiorina was being used by the men in the Republican field to harass Mrs. Clinton.

Ms. Fiorina insisted she had planned her trip here “many, many weeks ago, so perhaps she’s following me…..”

Give me a break.

Asked in a follow-up if her planned trip involved an appearance outside the very hotel where HRC was appearing, Fiorina had no answer.

Now perhaps inserting herself into the media glare surrounding Hillary Clinton is a tactic for boosting her own name ID, which she needs in order to qualify for the poll-based candidate debates in August and September (as noted earlier this morning, things are looking up for her on that front). But at some point the questions about being a stooge for the Big Boys are going to become a regular part of her life on the campaign trail. So it would be wise for Fiorina to avoid this kind of stunt in the future.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.