If you think Donald Trump has anything to apologize for this Sunday, then you’re probably a deviant.
So said the billionaire real-estate mogul turned presidential candidate on multiple Sunday morning shows, as the GOP presidential candidate refused to apologize for his criticisms of Fox News host Megyn Kelly, which many in his own party had deemed misogynistic.
“I have so much respect for women and I will help women in terms of the health issues,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.”
“I was one of the first people to put women in charge of big construction jobs,” he added.
During the first Republican presidential primary debate Thursday night, Kelly, who was moderating, confronted Trump with his history of referring to various women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” then asked if that reflected “the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”
Trump called Kelly’s question “ridiculous” and “off-base,” in an interview with CNN the following day.
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes,” Trump told CNN host Don Lemon on Friday night. “Blood coming out of her wherever.”
To many, “blood coming out of her wherever,” sounded like a dog-whistle reference to menstruation. That interpretation of the comment became so widespread, the conservative group RedState dis-invited Trump to it’s annual gathering. It also may have cost Trump one of his top aides - Trump announced the firing of longtime adviser Roger Stone on Saturday, but Stone told msnbc that he had resigned from the campaign out of frustration over Trump’s feud with Kelly.
Trump insisted that by “wherever,” he was referring to Kelly’s “ears or nose.”
“Only a deviant would make that jump,” Trump told Todd. “I went to the Wharton School of Finance, the toughest place to get into. I was a great student. I don’t talk that way.”
Many of Trump’s supporters agree, including the female co-chair of Trump’s Iowa campaign Tana Goertz, who told NBC News, ”I am a woman. I experience that every month. And it never crossed my mind. So I think people are just looking at pinpointing him as sexist and all these other things.”
On “Meet the Press,” Todd noted that, even if Trump hadn’t intended to invoke menstruation, he still has a history of disparaging the physical appearance of his female critics.
“I was attacked by the people you talk about,” Trump replied. “When I’m attacked, I fight back. When I was attacked viciously by those women, of course, it’s very hard for them to attack me on looks, because I’m so good looking.”
In all his interviews, Trump quickly pivoted from defending his controversial comments, to attacking former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s for his women’s health related gaffe.
Last week, while talking about the need to divert federal dollars away from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, Bush said in an aside, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”
“I think that will go down to haunt him and maybe be the same as Romney’s 47%,” Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Uniom.”
“Jeb was very negative on women’s health, and when you’re negative on women’s health, you can forget about it,” he said.
Trump acknowledged that Bush had apologized for his comments on women’s health, but did not offer his rival any forgiveness.
“He then went back and apologized the following day,” Trump said. “Well, he really did misspeak. And I thought it was disgraceful.”
Trump vowed that, unlike Bush, he would be a champion of women as president, telling Tapper, “I cherish women. I want to help women. I am going to be able to do things for women that no other candidate will be able to do.”
In the midst of the Megyn Kelly comments fallout, Trump moved his attention to another woman Sunday, writing on Twitter that fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina has “zero chance.”