Fiorina: Trump won't challenge the system

Former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said Thursday she campaigned because she believes America needs a conservative who will challenge the system — and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, not Donald Trump, is that person.

Fiorina on Wednesday threw her support behind Cruz, saying the U.S. senator from Texas was the only candidate left who could topple front-runner Trump and take the White House from Democrats.

Trump on Thursday told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that Cruz will never get elected because he cannot win states, given his "views on things."

Reacting to that comment, Fiorina said it was "spoken like a guy who is actually not a conservative — he's not — spoken like a guy who has no intention of challenging the system. He is the system."

"He's going to cut deals all day long. The only trouble is those deals benefit him, and they will harm the people who are voting for him," the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said.

Fiorina and Trump clashed frequently during debates, though the sole female candidate on the GOP campaign trail mostly declined to engage Trump in personal attacks after he disparaged her appearance.

Last fall, Rolling Stone magazine quoted Trump as saying, "Look at that face," referring to Fiorina. "Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?" In response, Fiorina said women around the United States heard those comments "very clearly."

Before Fiorina's interview on Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott also appeared on "Squawk Box." When asked about how GOP elders should handle the contentious presidential contest, he invoked his own principle, "trust the voters." But days before the crucial primary in his state, he wouldn't disclose which candidate he supports.

The Republican governor spoke ahead of Thursday's GOP debate in Miami and following a speech last week by Mitt Romney, in which the 2012 GOP presidential nominee called Trump a phony and implored voters to choose one of his three remaining rivals.

"What I've done is I've said, let's trust the voters," Scott told CNBC. "We're going to have a great debate in Miami. Let's make sure that they're talking about issues," including jobs, education and public safety.

Scott has consistently said he will not endorse a candidate until Floridians vote in Tuesday's primary, a winner-take-all contest with 99 delegates at stake.

Speculators have questioned whether Scott could be Trump's running mate following the governor's January op-ed, in which he said the GOP front-runner has captured Americans' frustration and likened his transition from business to politics to Trump's.

Scott founded Columbia Hospital Corp. in 1987 and grew the company into an operator of hundreds of hospitals. It merged with Hospital Corporation of America in 1994. Scott was heralded by many as a hospital industry reformer, but resigned as CEO and chairman of Columbia/HCA in 1997 amid a federal investigation into Medicare and Medicaid fraud at the company.

The Justice Department reported it had collected more than $2 billion in criminal fines and civil penalties from Columbia/HCA for " for systematically defrauding federal health care programs."

A number of polls see Trump commanding a comfortable lead of roughly 10 to 20 percentage points ahead Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the state's primary.

Scott said he will support whoever is the party nominates.

"I believe our nominee, the Republican nominee, will focus on cutting taxes like we've done, reducing regulation like we've done, and turning this national economy around, like Florida has done," he said.

— Reuters contributed to this story.

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