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By Leigh Ann Caldwell

Hillary Clinton visited South Carolina for the first time since announcing her presidential campaign, returning to a state where she suffered a devastating loss to challenger Barack Obama in 2008.

As the keynote speaker at the annual conference of the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council, an organization that works to elect women to office in the Palmetto State, Clinton said she wants to support their efforts.

She said she wants “to make sure the Democratic Party and the Women’s Democratic Council recruits and trains more women for public office right here in South Carolina.”

Women representation in South Carolina government is stunningly low. Of 43 state senators, only one is a woman. In the state House of Representatives, less than 10 percent of members are women.

Should she be the Democratic nominee, or possibly the first female president, enticing women to turn out to vote is likely to be a necessary part of her campaign strategy to piece together a coalition of voters.

But no matter how many women Clinton wins in South Carolina in a general election, it’s likely not going to be enough to win the red state that is reliably Republican and hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1976.

Clinton, who has vowed to compete in the primary states even though she is currently 50 points ahead of her closest Democratic challenger in the polls, is doing her due diligence by visiting the state this primary season. That's because the Democratic Party needs Clinton more than Clinton needs South Carolina.

Jaime Harrison, head of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, said that Clinton could play a huge role in helping southern Democratic parties, especially in South Carolina, to increase its numbers and significance.

“If she can energize voters, particularly women voters, and work to invest in state parties, particularly in the south, it would a tremendous asset to the South Carolina Democratic Party,” he said.

Meanwhile, another woman is in South Carolina campaigning simultaneously. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is also in Columbia where she criticized Clinton on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports.

“I think when 82 percent of the American people now believe that there is a professional political class more interested in preserving its own power and privilege than it is in serving the American people, people expect basic questions to be asked anyone running for president,” Fiorina said, jumping on a criticism that Clinton hasn’t spoken enough to the press. “What have you done? Are you trustworthy? Are you transparent? Will you answer questions?”

Her speech focused on economic issues, especially those pertaining to women. She promoted the ideas of equal pay.

"I don’t think I am letting you in on a secret when I say too many women earn less than men on the job - and women of color often make even less. Then there is the so called motherhood penalty with many women taking a pay cut when they have children," she said.

"We could fix this if Republicans would get on board. We in fact could fix this today, but they won’t."

Clinton also met with six minority women who own a small business in the state and visited Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles in Columbia, which is known for its fried chicken and red velvet waffles according to pool notes of the event, where she chatted with patrons.