Donald Trump says he ‘cherishes’ women after debate row

Republican candidate crititicised for comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly

US presidential candidate  and businessman Donald Trump. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

US presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

 

Embattled Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has hit back at critics who say he went too far with caustic comments about a US television news anchor, insisting no apology was necessary and defending his relationships with women.

Trump is under fire for criticising Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during and after a Republican debate on Thursday.

Asked about Kelly in a CNN interview on Friday, Trump said: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

The real estate mogul and television personality, who remains ahead of his 16 rivals in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, appeared on Sunday news shows to rebut the outrage triggered by his off-the-cuff remarks.

“I’ve had such an amazing relationship with women in business. They are amazing executives. They are killers. They are phenomenal,” Trump said on ABC’s This Week.

Asked if he thought he had gone too far, Trump said, “No, not at all.”

Trump told CNN he had “great relationships” with women and had hired many as top-level employees, adding, “I cherish women.”

Recurring pattern

It has been a recurring pattern in the campaign: Trump makes an offensive comment, incurs a firestorm of reaction and critics sound the death knell for his campaign.

So far, he has survived the backlash, including Republican anger over his belittling of the war hero status of US senator John McCain, the party’s nominee in the 2008 election.

Trump was barred from an important gathering of conservative activists on Saturday following the remarks and drew another round of denunciations from fellow Republicans.

Republican candidates Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and George Pataki denounced his comments about Kelly on Twitter or in statements.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush called on Trump to apologise.

“They were completely inappropriate and offensive comments. Period,” Fiorina said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Fiorina criticised Trump for having gotten angry at Kelly for questioning his comments about women, including calling those he disliked “fat pigs” and “slobs”.

“You cannot have a president who is thin-skinned,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

‘Misconstrued’

Trump said his comments about blood coming from Kelly were misconstrued as a reference to menstrual blood or hormonal activity and called that interpretation “deviant”.

He said he meant to say her “nose, ears” and was implying that she was angry.

“She asked me a very, very nasty question,” he said on This Week.

Trump has repeatedly attacked his fellow candidates, accusing Perry, the former Texas governor, of wearing glasses to look smarter and calling Graham, a senator from South Carolina, an “idiot”.

On Sunday, he attacked Fiorina on several shows as a failed executive who got fired, then lost a bid for the US senate by a landslide.

He criticised Jeb Bush as being “negative on women’s health” following his recent comments on funding for women’s health programmes.

He took credit for Fox News’s record ratings of 24 million viewers for the prime-time debate, saying of Bush: “The man has no energy.”

Trump dismissed his critics as beholden to political correctness and pointed to the opinion polls as proof that he was “winning big all over the place”.