Atlanta (CNN) Donald Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly escalated Friday night when he said the Fox News host had “blood coming out of her wherever” at this week’s Republican debate, resulting in swift condemnation from conservatives and a major political event pulling its invitation to him.
During Thursday’s presidential debate, Kelly pressed Trump about misogynistic, sexist comments he made in the past, such as calling some women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
Trump slammed Kelly, saying her questions were “ridiculous” and “off-base.”
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon on Friday night. “Blood coming out of her wherever.”
But the comment crossed the line, RedState.com editor Erick Erickson said Friday night. He disinvited Trump from the RedState Gathering, a conservative event featuring GOP presidential hopefuls this weekend in Atlanta. Trump was scheduled to give the keynote speech Saturday night.
Saturday morning, Trump attempted to clarify the remark on Twitter.
“Re Megyn Kelly quote: ‘you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever’ (NOSE). Just got on w/thought”
Trump also slammed “‘politically correct’ fools in our country,” tweeting that “we have to all get back to work and stop wasting time and energy on nonsense!”
The real estate mogul elaborated in a statement later Saturday morning, claiming he said “‘blood coming out of her eyes and whatever,’ meaning nose.”
He added: “Only a deviant would think anything else.”
As for Erickson — who is also a Fox News contributor — Trump called him a “total loser” who “has a history of supporting establishment losers in failed campaigns so it is an honor to be uninvited from his event.”
When Erickson told the gathering Saturday morning that Trump would not be attending, the news was greeted with a mix of applause and boos.
“Folks, I’ve given Donald Trump a lot of latitude because he’s not a professional politician. He’s been a very blunt talker. I’ve said some dumb things in my life, then I’ve apologized for them,” said Erickson, adding that the Trump campaign declined to apologize or clarify the remark when he reached out to them Friday night.
“I think it was inappropriate, I really think it was inappropriate,” Erickson continued. “I’ve got my wife here, I’ve got my daughter here, I’ve got 800 friends of mine here. It’s a family-friendly program, and if he’s not going to clarify that this isn’t what he meant, I don’t think I want him at my event.”
Erickson wasn’t the only conservative bashing Trump.
Penny Young Nance, the CEO and president of the conservative group Concerned Women for America, told CNN that Trump’s “tantrum was even more enlightening than his original remarks she questioned.”
“Does he have a problem with women?” Nance asked in a statement Saturday morning. “Three wives would suggest that yes, maybe there’s a problem. The good news is that Kelly is a mother of toddlers and knows how to deal with petulance and tantrums. Every presidential election since 1964 has been carried by women. Women don’t like mean and we certainly won’t vote for men or women we don’t trust. Trump’s biggest woman problem is how does he convince women to trust him to keep America safe?”
Media mogul and Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch praised debate moderators Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace early Saturday morning while criticizing his friend Trump.
“Friend Donald has to learn this is public life,” Murdoch tweeted.
Kelly and Fox News declined to comment to CNN Friday night.
At the gathering Saturday morning, Bob and Susan Wasielewski, of Roswell, Georgia, said they agreed with Erickson’s decision to pull Trump’s invitation.
“(The comments) were just totally reprehensible,” Susan Wasielewski said. “There’s no room for that, and there’s no room for a candidate like that to become president of the United States. … I think he’s taken himself out of the race. I think Erick Erickson did the correct thing to disinvite him.”
But Mary Howard, 63, of Indianapolis, told CNN that while she believed Erickson had the right to yank Trump’s invitation, she disagreed with the decision and said “a lot of people are disappointed.”
She believes the Republican establishment is trying to discredit Trump.
“They twisted what the words were, because they’re trying to destroy him,” Howard said. “The GOP is really afraid of him and they are going to do anything to discredit him.”
2016 GOP hopefuls slam remark
Republican presidential hopefuls — all of whom are trailing Trump in national polls — swiftly blasted the remarks and condemned Trump.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — a former Fox News host himself — told CNN Saturday morning outside the gathering that he hopes Trump apologizes.
“Megyn Kelly was a colleague of mine for six and a half years when I was at Fox. She is one of the most remarkable people I know. Intellectually unsurpassed as a broadcast journalist, she has great integrity, and so you know I’m going to stand for Megyn Kelly,” Huckabee said.
He added: “I would certainly never say anything about a person like that, and I hope he apologizes because I think that he should.”
Former Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina, the only woman running for the GOP nomination, was quick to slam Trump’s comment Friday night.
“Mr. Trump: There. Is. No. Excuse,” she tweeted. “I stand with @MegynKelly.”
George Pataki, the former New York governor, called Trump’s latest controversy a “sad but predictable meltdown from Trump.”
“With all due respect to @megynkelly the outrage at Trump’s divisive language is long overdue,” he added on Twitter.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a statement that Trump’s statements “are not worthy of the office he is seeking.”
“As a party, we are better to risk losing without Donald Trump than trying to win with him,” Graham said. “Enough already with Mr. Trump.”
But just as he did when asked about Trump’s questioning of Sen. John McCain’s war record last month, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declined to criticize Trump on Saturday.
“I think every one candidate should treat everyone with civility and respect. It’s a standard I try to follow,” Cruz told reporters at the gathering. “I don’t think we’re going to solve the problems in this country by obsessing over the politics of personality. This is about real challenges facing the American people.”
Gathering will go on
Erickson said in a statement Friday that while he likes Trump personally, “I just don’t want someone on stage who gets a hostile question from a lady and his first inclination is to imply it was hormonal. It just was wrong.”
But the Trump campaign fired back, saying “this is just another example of weakness through being politically correct.”
“For all of the people who were looking forward to Mr. Trump coming, we will miss you,” his campaign said. “Blame Erick Erickson, your weak and pathetic leader. We’ll now be doing another campaign stop at another location.”
But Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN Saturday morning that Trump will not hold an event Saturday night. His next public appearance will be in Michigan on Tuesday.
The RedState Gathering, meanwhile, will go on without Trump. This year, the annual eventfeatures fellow GOP presidential candidates Fiorina, Huckabee, Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker.
As for the newly vacant spot at the RedState Gathering, Erickson has invited Kelly to replace Trump. It was not immediately clear if she had accepted the invitation.